Readers, I know what you’re thinking: Another cauliflower recipe, S? Really? Hey, I know it’s not everyone’s favorite vegetable (yet)– heck, I probably even hate boiled cauliflower almost as much as your average picky all American meat-and-potato-eater. No one wants to eat soggy, bland, gas-inducing mush.
But trust me, guys. Done correctly, cauliflower can be absolutely delicious. When roasted, it becomes buttery, nutty, and complex. Not to mention that it’s also super cheap, incredibly versatile, low in fat and calories, and packed with tons of nutrients (iron, B vitamins, calcium, vitamin C, just to name a few) and even a fair amount of protein. (See nutrition facts here.)
This recipe combines elements of two traditional Italian dishes: St. John’s Eve Pasta (traditionally made with anchovies, tomato sauce, bread crumbs, and almonds) and Pasta con Cavolfiore e Pangrattato (traditionally made with cauliflower and bread crumbs). The end result is a simple, light, but nutty pasta with flavors reminiscent of parmesan cheese. With only a few ingredients and very little hands-on cooking time, it’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal, or even a last minute dinner party.
Sicilian-Style Linguini with Roasted Cauliflower, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs
1 large head of cauliflower
4 ounces linguine or pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs are a fine substitution)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
1) Preheat your oven to 425 and bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
2) While the oven is preheating and water is coming to a boil, coarsely chop, then use your hands to crumble the cauliflower into pieces about the size of a pea. (If you prefer, you can also make the dish with larger florets, however you will need to roast them for twice as long.)
3) Spread crumbled cauliflower on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and black pepper, then gently shake the tray to evenly coat the pieces with oil and seasoning.
4) Roast cauliflower for about 45 minutes or until well browned, even lightly charred in some spots. (As every oven is a little different, check periodically after the 30 minute mark to ensure that the cauliflower is cooking evenly, stirring if necessary.)
5) While the cauliflower is roasting, toast almonds in a dry sauté pan until lightly browned. Just as the almonds begin to color, add breadcrumbs and continue toasting mixture until the crumbs darken slightly. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast to the mixture.
6) Cook pasta according to package instruction, reserving a 1/4 cup of liquid.
7) Toss pasta with roasted cauliflower (including any burnt bits or moisture from the baking sheet) and stir in almond-crumb mixture. If the pasta seems to be clumping together, add a small amount of the pasta water to facilitate mixing.
8) Add additional salt and/or pepper to taste.