Two Years Ago: Healthy Baked Apples
This is an excellent and somewhat unusual pasta dish that can be served warm, room temperature or cold which makes it a good choice for any time of the year. Plus, it's much lighter and healthier than most heavy red-sauce pastas.
I've recently discovered vegetables that I thought I didn't really care for all that much such as cabbage or cauliflower can actually become wonderful when they're cooked to the point that they turn into something else. For cabbage, that means cooking it down until it's very tender and sweet (see cabbage and spring onion tart) and for broccoli or cauliflower that means roasting or sauteing until they're pretty well torched (see chicken and caramelized broccoli ramen) which results in a much deeper and nuttier flavor. The roasted cauliflower is a highlight of this salad, along with the walnuts and bacon. (You could also use a combination of roasted cauliflower and broccoli if you want.) Leave the bacon out and you've got a great vegetarian meal.
The sauce is very simple - good olive oil with a little garlic flavor (or a lot, depending on your taste). You could also add additional red pepper flakes to spice things up - there's just a small amount on the cauliflower. The cauliflower only roasts for about 20 minutes so you could make this meal in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta, making it a good choice for a weeknight meal.
Leftovers are excellent cold for lunch - just add a few drops of olive oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon to fresh things up.
Roasted Cauliflower with Pasta and Walnuts
1 small head cauliflower, large stems removed, florets separated and halved
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more for serving, if desired)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
9-10 ounces short-cut dry pasta (such as penne or ziti)
2/3 cup frozen peas
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 slices bacon, chopped, fried until crisp and drained (optional)
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 450d.
Add cauliflower to a mixing bowl with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. toss to coat, then spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the florets over. Turn the oven to broil and return to the oven for 5 minutes or so, watching closely, until browned. Remove and let cool.
Heat a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions, adding the peas to the cooking water during the last 1-2 minutes. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, add the garlic cloves to the ¼ cup olive oil in a small saucepan and warm gently for a few minutes over low heat. Remove the garlic cloves.
Return the pasta and peas to their cooking pot and add the garlic oil, parsley and parmesan, tossing to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with the walnuts and optional bacon scattered on top and additional parmesan on the side. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. (If refrigerated, add a little additional olive oil and toss before serving.)