Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

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Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

Helloooo, Monday! When I walked out of my building with Lu this morning (on my way to grab some kale for my smoothie), the sunny, warm and refreshing weather put me in that “I will conquer this day” sort of mood.

Like yesterday. I spent the whole day driving back home from a “girls’ weekend” trip in Westport, MA with 3 of my best friends (with the windows down, blasting the best of the 90s off Spotify). Nothing could have brought us down!

When we got on the FDR and were cruising down the east side of Manhattan, all of the people running outside, the glistening Hudson River (yes, it glistens!), and the throngs of tourists made me so pumped for summer 2014.

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

In the summer, I tend to eat less and drink more. I don’t mean alcohol, necessarily (although nothing beats sangria al fresco drankin’,) I just mean loads of citrus-infused water, cold juices and protein-packed smoothies.

Food during the summer consists of lots of outdoor grilling sans the buns (swapping in lettuce wraps instead), fully loaded salads, ceviches and gazpachos, chilled pasta salads, and of course, PLENTY of raw zoodles in creamy avocado sauces.


Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

However, it’s going to be in the 50s this week, so…. womp womp. Totally raining on my parade, Mother Nature. Alas, here’s a crockpot bolognese sauce over zucchini noodles.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I bought this Crockpot in 2009 for my first apartment in Hoboken and have never used it. Not once.

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

After this delicious vegan bolognese, I’m sorry I haven’t used my Crockpot more. The flavors of the cauliflower really fluff up the tomato sauce and make a hearty pasta sauce without the heaviness of meat. The consistency of the mashed cauliflower florets mimics a light meat sauce!

Honestly, speaking of summer, this crockpot cauliflower bolognese would be fantastic chilled and stuffed into a lettuce wrap with some raw zoodles – or even in a good ‘ole whole wheat tortilla, lightly grilled or seared over the stove.

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

I’m going to totally own this 72+ degree day and not let this week’s impending 50-degree weather hold be down. I feel like these next few weeks are like the last minute of an uphill “ride” in a spinning class – the instructor is screaming at you, “we’re almost at the top of this hill! give it everything you’ve got!”

So, here goes me – giving it everything I’ve got. See you there!

Do you like to use your slow cooker/crockpot in the summertime? 

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

Yields 5-6

10 minPrep Time

3 hr, 30 Cook Time

3 hr, 40 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • For the bolognese:
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut up into florets
  • 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil flakes
  • 2 14oz cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the pasta:
  • 5 large zucchinis, Blade A


  1. Place all of the ingredients for the bolognese into a crockpot. Place the crockpot on high and let cook for 3.5 hours.
  2. When done, smash the cauliflower with a potato masher or fork until the florets break up to create a "bolognese."
  3. Spoon the bolognese over bowls of zucchini noodles.

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles

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Stephie G. says:
O...M...G! Why did I never think of substituting cauliflower for the crumbled meat in a bolognese sauce? I mean, all those bags of fake ground meat I've been purchasing when I could have just bought a head of cauliflower? I feel a bit ditzy. Thanks for this awesome crockpot meal, Ali. I love using my slow cooker, but I hardly ever do it. Now that I have a baby, I'm looking for shortcuts on how to get dinner done in a flash. I'll have to give this one a try.
Noreen says:
Do you think blade A or C is best for this recipe? You say to use blade C but picture looks like blade A?
Blade A, definitely! Check out the recipe! Thanks.
Shannon says:
This looks yummy! But when u going to have new meat recipes? Hehe
Haha - Friday is my next meat recipe!
Anonymous says:
Do you cook the zucchini noodles?
Nope - the noodles heat up with the warm sauce!
Sarah says:
That was my question. Blade A on what? A food processor?
Julie says:
Looks good! It would be great to be able to start it before work and have ready around dinner time... Do you think it could work with the crockpot on low for a longer time or would everything just get mushy?
Sheila says:
What if I wanted to do it without a crockpot?
You could put it in a saucepan, cover and simmer for a couple/few hours!
Lord of the Grill says:
I made this in a Dutch oven (I don't use crockpots) and I cooked on medium low for the same amount of time. The texture is OK, but I think it tastes too much like Prego out of a jar. It could benefit greatly from some sauteeing and caramelizing of the onions, maybe a little bit of grated carrot to cut the acidity, and even (if you don't want to make it vegetarian) some diced pancetta in the bottom to give it an extra depth of flavor. And either "A" or "C' blade is going to give you a different shape "noodle," but it doesn't really matter. Whichever you like best!
It would work - plus, bolognese is mushy! :) You could even add a half a cup of crushed almonds to this to give it more crunchiness, if it did come out mushy!
Mary Beth says:
So if mushiness isn't a problem, can I assume that leftovers of the sauce would reheat nicely? If so, it would be great for lunch the next day if I just take the zoodles packed separately. Sure looks good!
Joanne says:
I rarely crockpot either, but now that the cold wet rainy weather is back, I think I need to get my bolognese on!
Sheryl says:
Can you do calorie counts on your recipes?
Lorna R. says:
I have a question about the diced tomatoes.. I see that you use those in many of your recipes. Before you add the canned diced tomatoes to your recipe (in this one and/or others) do you drain the can? I know most recipes will note that in the ingred list but I thought I better check to make sure. I appreciate your help, Ali. And I looove the idea with this recipe!! How inventive!
Thanks for the kind words! If I say canned tomatoes I mean to include the juices! Thanks for checking!
Marga says:
This is in the crockpot now, can't wait for lunchtime!
Marga, please let us know what you think of the recipe. It looks delicious!
Carla says:
This is the first recipe that I have not enjoyed. I have to agree with Lord of the Grill's comments.
Lori Bales says:
This looks great!! Thanks for the great recipes - I am happy to share them on my company's page, "Your Healthy Side".
Ingrid says:
I had an enormous cauliflower that I need to use up and this looked like a new, fun, and painless way to do so. I admit I was skeptical at first when the sauce was done because it looked very watery. However, when I mashed up the cauliflower it really did "fluff up" the sauce! The look and texture of the little bits of cauliflower in the sauce reminded me of a clam sauce and I enjoyed the flavor very much. ('Didn't think it tasted remotely like sauce from a jar.) It's a keeper! Oh--and since my zucchini came out of the fridge I found that I enjoyed it better when I zapped the cold noodles for ~30 seconds in the micro before eating my healthy and beautiful dish. :)
Janet says:
could I cook it on low for 6-8 hours?
Tina Wilson says:
Do you have the nutritional value for this dish? Would much appreciate it :)
UNfortunately, I don't! You can pop in the ingredients into, which is what I use now!
Ashleigh says:
Could you use broccoli in place of cauliflower, or would that make it too mushy?
Lizz Bee says:
Tried this recipe tonight! I did 1C of veggie broth (instead of 1/2C), added 2 bay leaves, a dash of tumeric, and 1/4 C of fresh celery. Cooked on high for the suggested amount of time - cauliflower fell apart easily with a fork. I have an old school vegetti, so my zoodles were more of a spaghetti experience. The recipe will easily serve 4, possibly 6 people, although the serving size here is listed as 1. This was divine! Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I will 110% be making again.
Morgan says:
I prepared everything as directed on this recipe but after cooking for 3.5 hours on high in my crockpot it still came out pretty liquid-y in the pot... did anyone else experience a problem like this/would draining the tomatoes a bit before adding them help at all?
Anonymous says:
It is a brothy sauce, since there is no tomato sauce or paste and of course liquid that cooks out of the cauliflower is trapped in the slow cooker as well. If you want a thicker sauce I'm sure you could drain the tomatoes and/or skip the added broth--or both! Or add some tomato sauce or...your choice. :-)
DK says:
I believe crock pots require some liquid in them to function optimally - and not having any might damage it, so I would not drain the tomatoes or skip the broth. (Unfortunately they also generate a lot of liquid as veggies, etc. cook, since the lid traps it in, but between starting and generating liquid from the cooking veg, you need to have the base liquids.) A safer idea might be to either drain the extra liquid when done cooking, or blend with an immersion blender when done to create a thicker sauce.
JJ says:
You don't mention how to cook the zucchini
Ingrid Garland says:
That's the beauty of it--you don't HAVE to cook the zucchini noodles! This is great in the summertime, when zucchini are in season. If your squash are at room temp, once you spiralize 'em the noodles are already soft, similar to slightly al dente pasta. If your squash just came out of the fridge, you can zap 'em for 30 seconds or so in the microwave or you could probably steam them if you really cannot bear the thought of eating them raw. But try it raw--it's so healthy!
cartierlovejesduas Is this about the panel or the candidates faux van cleef arpels pour homme
Jane says:
This recipe was absolutely disgusting. It taste like wet onions, water and hot sauce.

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