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Simple cauliflower pasta

May 20, 2011

I usually try to avoid dishes with pretty much only one vegetable, since variety is so important to healthy eating. However, considering all the good-for-you things in this pasta, it was a treat I was willing to make an exception for. This pasta isn’t the prettiest of them all, but it’s so wonderful when you need something quick yet satisfying and comforting. The flavours: cheese, cauliflower, olives, chilli, lemon and parsley (although the parsley is mostly for colour…you can add more if you want though, I just didn’t want to decimate my plant). I used the rest of my sheeps cheese (havarti from Kingsmeade, courtesy of judging the Taste Farmers Markets New Zealand Awards!), but you can use any strong hard cheese, parmesan being the obvious example.* Together this is surprisingly strong on the umami from the cheese and olives, with a lovely nutty crunch from the cauliflower and a tangy refreshing hint of lemon and kick of pepper and chilli to add interest. If you’re not an olive fan it’s easy enough to omit them, and as I said the parsley is mainly for some colour (although it’s also good for your obviously), so in the end you could make this very simple.

*Dilemma: saying parmigiano reggiano feels soooo pretentious, but that’s really what I mean – I implore you to get the real Italian stuff, because as much as I love buying local, nothing really comes close (or does it? let me know if you find someone in NZ who does).

Cauliflower pasta

serves 4

  • about 300g pasta
  • about 4c cauliflower florets
  • optional: generous handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

In a bowl, mix together:

  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • about 1/2c finely grated strong hard cheese
  • optional: about 1/2c pitted kalamata olives, or some anchovies, chopped into a mince
  • about 1/4 tsp good chilli sauce (not sweet chilli or anything pureed) or red chilli flakes
  • salt and loads of freshly coarsely ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil (a generous drizzle)
Cook pasta in boiling salted water, in a very large saucepan. Meanwhile, heat about 3 Tbs cooking oil on medium heat in a separate large frypan and add cauliflower. Cover, and let cook for a minute until the florets touching the bottom of the pan get brown flecks on them. Uncover, stir around, cover. Repeat this process until all the florets are covered in brown splotches, then add a splash of water and cover, letting steam until the raw edge is taken off. You want the cauliflower quite crunchy still in this dish. Turn off heat and let sit on the cooling element uncovered.
By now the pasta should be done. Turn off heat, drain in a colander and quickly return to the pan (you still want a little bit of the pasta water). Stir through the cauliflower and stuff in the bowl. Cover and let sit for a minute so the steam properly melts the cheese. Uncover, taste, and add more salt and/or lemon juice if necessary. Stir through parsley and serve with an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2011 10:46 am

    Ooh cauliflower and olives, yum. Cauliflower and cheese seems like such a natural (and delicious!) combination but I love the addition of the olives. Mm, salty, yum!

  2. May 21, 2011 11:54 am

    M: Yeah, it’s probably about as umami as one can get without meat!

  3. May 25, 2011 1:29 am

    I love it. My wife doesn’t like cauliflower, so I’d probably throw in broccoli or snap peas to make us both happy.

  4. May 25, 2011 11:13 am

    R: Well, bonus would be that you get some green in there! Has she ever tried slightly browned cauliflower? It’s seared on multiple sides then steamed (like above). Man, I don’t know how anyone can resist the stuff. I do a little dance every time the lid comes off and I smell the nuttiness.
    …No judging!

  5. September 24, 2011 11:23 pm

    Simple and delicious!

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