This cauliflower pasta was my birthday dinner last week. My sister called while the pasta was cooking, and the message she left said, “I hope you’re out doing something special and not at home photographing your dinner.”
Well, what can I say, I was obsessed with my cauliflower mission. Plus, it was a cold and rainy night, and this dinner felt warm and cozy. (Well, ok, it was warm when I reheated it after the photos were done… but still).
I’m strange about holidays… I just think celebrations should be random. If I made a list of my favorite life moments, most of them did not happen on Christmas or my birthday, or even on my wedding day (family, pretend I didn’t just say that)… they happened on some random Tuesday, at a time and place that I never expected.
To me, expectation muddles things. I’d rather Jack come home some weeknight and announce that we’re going to Uchiko (hint hint) than watch him stress about what to plan for my birthday.
So a low key birthday it was… with Jack, my dad, myself, and the roasted cauliflower…
Now, about this roasted cauliflower pasta!
This cauliflower pasta comes together simply. First, spread the cauliflower florets on a sheet pan in a single layer with the chopped shallots & garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. Then, roast it in a 450-degree oven until it’s golden brown and has a wonderful nutty flavor. While your cauliflower roasts, toss the hot cooked pasta with a little starchy pasta water and a handful of spinach, letting the hot pasta water wilt the greens into the pasta.
Finally, stir together the roasted veggies, the pasta & greens, lemon juice & zest, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Top it all with crispy toasted almonds, and you have a delicious combination of bright, fresh, nutty, and briny flavors. In short, this is one satisfying, easy dinner.
Cauliflower pasta variations
If you’re looking to change up this recipe, I recommend the following variations:
- Sprinkle some feta cheese on top for a tangy, creamy pop.
- Swap out the herbs for different cozy, fresh, or savory flavors. Tarragon, parsley, or thyme would all be excellent here.
- Dust your pasta with bread crumbs for a little crispy texture.
- Finish it with a poached egg for a creamy, sauce-like addition and some extra protein.
If you make this cauliflower pasta, please let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you.
- 2-3 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 shallots, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, very coarsely chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- 6 ounces spaghetti noodles (I like Jovial's brown rice noodles)
- A handful or two of baby spinach
- Hot pasta water (about ½ cup)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Squeezes of lemon & some lemon zest
- ¼ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (or perhaps olives)
- ¼ cup crumbled feta (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or herbs of your choice)
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup bread crumbs, toasted (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Poached egg (optional)
- Roast cauliflower, shallots, and garlic in a 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Be sure not to chop your garlic too small or it will burn before the cauliflower is done. Once it's golden brown, remove from the oven. Mix it all together and taste a piece, it should taste nutty and delicious. If it doesn't, add a small drizzle of olive oil, a teeny bit more garlic, and a pinch of salt if necessary. Set aside.
- Cook your pasta for about 8 minutes or until it's done but al dente. Place spinach in a large bowl, and scoop your pasta noodles into the bowl with the spinach and toss so the spinach begins to wilt. Add some pasta water to help that along.
- Next add half the roasted veggies, another drizzle of olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon, some lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and basil, and toss everything together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Top with the rest of the roasted cauliflower and the toasted bread crumbs & almonds. (Serve with poached eggs if you like).