July 26, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

I grew up in New Jersey so it’s almost a cultural imperative for me to like pasta with red sauce. And believe me, I do. I love big a bowl of spaghetti topped with meatballs and marinara sauce.

But sometimes I like to change it up. Maybe try a sauce that’s not tomato based. Or make a pasta dish that features veggies instead of meatballs.

I recently came across this recipe and it’s a keeper. The recipe calls for roasting cauliflower, which brings out its sweetness and intensifies its rich, earthy flavor. It does the same for the garlic that you roast right along with cauliflower. Toss in some pine nuts and a spritz of lemon juice to liven everything up and you’ve got a knockout pasta dish for when it’s not a red sauce kind of night.

You start with a step that seems tiresome but is really worthwhile. Separate a head of garlic into individual cloves, then immerse them in boiling water. This kick starts the cooking process and makes peeling the cloves so much easier.

Remove the garlic cloves from the water and peel.

Cut the cauliflower in florets. Toss the cauliflower and garlic together on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Roast until the garlic and cauliflower are lightly browned all over and darker brown in some spots. These browned spots are going to give you tons of flavor.

Toss the cauliflower and garlic with your cooked pasta. Squeeze some lemon juice on top, then sprinkle pine nuts and parsley over the whole thing. Enjoy!

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

Based on the recipe from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That?

To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry sauté pan and cook over low heat, tossing frequently, until lightly browned (about 6-10 minutes).

1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into florets
4½ Tbsp olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh parsley (I used chopped chives, which is what I had on hand)
3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 oz. fresh (refrigerated) linguine

1.      Preheat oven to 450° F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Fish out the cloves, peel and cut off any brown parts. Cut the largest cloves in half lengthwise. Keep the water simmering.

2.      On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with garlic, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Spread mixture out in a single layer and roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing twice, until the cauliflower is tender and garlic is lightly browned.

3.      When the cauliflower is about 5 minutes away from being done, season the water with salt and some olive oil. Toss the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water, then drain and put pasta in large mixing bowl.

4.      Scrape the cauliflower with garlic and pan juices into large mixing bowl with pasta. Add remaining 1½ Tbsp. olive oil, parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice. Sprinkle with another ½ tsp. salt. Toss everything together, adding pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce.

Serves 4


  1. Deepali has a twist on this recipe and made it as an appetizer last night. She puts sunflower seeds in for crunch, and no pasta. It was good.


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