5 to 6cupslow-sodium chicken brothdivided, plus a few additional splashes as needed
2tablespoonschopped fresh parsley
2tablespoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes. Stir in the Panko and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until Panko is deep, dark golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the Panko-bacon mixture to a bowl. Let cool, then toss with 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Set aside.
With a damp paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean. Return the skillet to the heat, increase the heat to medium-high, and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cauliflower, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and has begun to brown in spots, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. With a large spoon, scoop the vegetables onto a large plate and cover to keep warm.
Return the pot to the heat. Add 5 cups of the broth and increase the heat to high. Once simmering, add the pasta and adjust the heat so that it comes to a gentle boil. As soon as it begins to boil, cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. If at any point the pasta seems dry, add in some of the remaining broth to loosen it back up. Once the pasta has cooked, stir in the peas and let cook just long enough to warm them through, about 30 seconds. If the pasta is too dry, add more chicken broth or (if you run out) hot water.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the parsley, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and cauliflower mixture. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired (remember, the bread crumbs are a bit salty/peppery too). Divide the pasta between serving plates and sprinkle the bacon breadcrumbs generously over the top. Enjoy!
TO STORE: Place cooked cauliflower pasta (without breadcrumbs) in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To keep them from becoming soggy, store fully cooked and cooled bacon Parmesan breadcrumbs separately in an airtight storage container at room temperature and use to top leftovers.
TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a saucepan over low heat until warm. You can also reheat leftovers on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave until heated through. I suggest splashing in additional broth or water if your pasta becomes dry during reheating. I also love adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the warmed leftovers to perk them back up.
TO FREEZE: Store cooked leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Keep fully cooked and cooled bacon Parmesan breadcrumbs separately in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer and use to top leftovers as needed.