Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Pasta

Roasted cauliflower often makes an appearance on our dinner table. And the first time I introduced my husband to roasted garlic, it was love at first sight bite.  So when I found this recipe for roasted cauliflower and garlic pasta, I was very excited to try it.  It didn't disappoint.  While it may seem like a lot of garlic (that's 2 heads, not 2 cloves),  roasting the garlic gives it a mellow, almost sweet flavor and makes it surprisingly creamy.  All the flavors meld so well in this dish -- the cauliflower, the roasted garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan and the basil (although the original recipe calls for parsley).  And don't forget the toasted walnuts.  I almost left them out but decided that Cook's Illustrated really knows what they're talking about so I kept them in.  I'm so glad I did! They add so much flavor and texture. 

I was initially going to serve this with peas but at the last minute, I dumped the peas into the pasta to make it a true one-dish meal.  I really enjoyed it with the peas because they add a bit more nutrition and a little extra color, too!  Peas have such a mild flavor that it doesn't interfere any other flavors in the dish. 

Perhaps a testimony to how good this was, my husband found me eating some of the leftovers out of the fridge at 10 am the next morning. Breakfast (or second breakfast) of champions.

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Pasta
Taken from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Serves 4-6
  • 2 heads garlic, papery skins removed, top quarter of heads cut off (on the pointy side of the garlic) and discarded
  • 4-6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 pound short pasta (such as fusilli, rotini or campanelle)\
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped (I used about 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil instead)
  • 1/4 - 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut one 12-inch sheet of foil and spread it flat on the counter. Place the garlic heads, cut-side up, in the center of the foil. Drizzle ½ teaspoon olive oil over each head and fold up the sides of the foil to seal well. Place the foil packet directly on the oven rack (not on the preheating baking sheet) and roast until the garlic is very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil packet from the oven, open the foil and set it aside to cool.
  3. While the garlic is roasting, trim the outer leaves of the cauliflower and cut the stem flush with the bottom. Cut the head from pole to pole into 8 equal wedges and then cut the cauliflower into large bite-sized pieces. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  4. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the cauliflower is well browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. While the cauliflower roasts, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook until al dente. 
  6. Squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic to a smooth paste, then stir in red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Slowly whisk in remaining 2-4 tbsp.oil.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the frozen peas and roasted cauliflower to the pasta; stir in the garlic sauce, parsley, and 1/4 cup cheese. Adjust the consistency of the pasta (if need be) with the pasta cooking water.  Season the pasta with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste; sprinkle with toasted nuts. Serve immediately, with additional Parmesan.


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