Currently, in Austin, SO many restaurants are opening all the time and our list of to-try places is growing at a rapid pace. It’s a fun problem to have. Our little city is hot on the food map, but sadly, some of our old favorite little go-to spots are closing. One in particular was a little wine bar called Mulberry. It was a tiny place with a big marble slab of a bar. The wine was good, the vibe was cozy, and the food was everything you wanted to eat on a Friday night without having to make a reservation or wait two hours in line.
The menu would change often, but one dish that I ordered for a few weeks in a row was roasted cauliflower with herbs, pine nuts, golden raisins and capers – a combination that was deliciously tangy, savory and a little bit sweet. I’ve recreated that combo at home a number of times – this time I tossed it with whole wheat shells to make it more of a full meal.
The day I shot this, I happened to have some A+ vegetables from the farmers market – adorable orange cauliflower and these gorgeous tatsoi greens. Since then I’ve been making it with regular cauliflower and baby spinach, which works equally well.
I used whole wheat shells here, which play well with the nutty roasted cauliflower and the (also nutty) hazelnuts. Last night, I made this with gluten free shells and walnuts which was also a winning combo.
It’s all tossed with olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a little sambal for spice. This is a pretty easy, fuss-free recipe that we’ve really been enjoying lately and I hope you do too!
Note: unless you’re making a half recipe, use a larger pan than is pictured in the photo at the top of this post.
- 4 to 5 cups small cauliflower florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon vegan or regular butter
- 1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup or honey* (see note)
- ½ teaspoon sambal or red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces shell pasta, gluten-free or whole wheat* (see note)
- ¾ cup reserved pasta water (save this before you drain your pasta)
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 4 cups spinach, tatsoi, or swiss chard leaves
- ¼ cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
- 1 heaping tablespoon golden raisins
- ½ cup loose-packed chopped parsley, basil, or tarragon
- lemon wedges, for serving
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower florets on the sheet and toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and sambal and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Reserve ¾ cup pasta water before you drain the pasta. If you like, drizzle the pasta with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter. Add the shallot, smashed garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallot is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves.
- Stir the greens into the pan and cook until lightly wilted. Add the pasta, roasted cauliflower, and vinegar mixture and stir to coat. Stir in ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta water to create a light sauce. Add the hazelnuts, raisins, and parsley.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional sambal, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.