Cauliflower in pasta, you ask? Oh, heavens yes! Oven Roasted Cauliflower, to be precise…roasted along with red onion and garlic, then topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese; tossed with pasta and coated with a buttery cream sauce. The only problem you may encounter with this dish is having enough cauliflower left from the roasting pan to put in the pasta. Honestly, I could have eaten the entire baking sheet single-handedly.
Growing up in my house, cauliflower was boiled to within an inch of its life; then it was smothered with cheese sauce (the “cheese sauce” being a very loose definition of the actual product). Don’t get me wrong, I love cauliflower with cheese sauce – a real Mornay sauce – after the cauliflower has been steamed to tender perfection. I gobble it up.
That said, I’m not sure anything tops oven-roasted cauliflower. The roasting process really brings out the natural nutty flavor of the vegetable. The combination of that nutty roasted flavor, topped with some Parmesan cheese makes for the most amazing medley added to pasta.
I’ve read that many people don’t eat cauliflower much any more, outside of raw on a vegetable platter. If that’s true, it’s a shame. Because the flavor and texture of cooked cauliflower is almost meaty, and I think it’s a great inclusion for a Meatless Monday meal.
Additionally, I’ve removed the dread of tackling the disassembling of the cauliflower since I sliced it vertically for roasting. By doing this, I was able to have even-sized thickness for more even cooking. This dish is ready in about 30 minutes, so it is a real time-saver, as well as being delicious. I made two very heaping helpings with these volumes, so adjust the ingredients as needed.
Try this recipe. You’ll be happy you did.
- ½ head cauliflower, bottom leaves removed, sliced vertically (about ½ inch thick)
- ½ medium red onion, halved length-wise, then sliced to the same thickness as you slice the cauliflower
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces pasta (preferably a short curly pasta...I used campanelle), cooked according to package instructions for al dente
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving, if desired)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream (or half & half - or milk)
- parsley to garnish (optional)
- Place the cauliflower, onion and garlic on a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Toss with olive oil.
- Place the baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, tossing once half way through the cooking process.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and set aside (trying not to nibble on it too overly much *wink*)
- While the cauliflower is roasting, set a large sauce pan with salted water on to boil.
- Cook the pasta of your choice to al dente and drain in a colander.
- Using the same hot sauce pan, now empty, over medium heat, add the butter and cream to melt the butter.
- Add the pasta and the cauliflower mixture to the pasta and toss to fully coat the pasta with the butter and cream.
- Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and Parmesan cheese (if desired).