Roasted Cauliflower Pasta - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says . . .

I’m really loving non-traditional pasta dishes like this with just a few ingredients tossed with some pasta.  Probably like most Americans, I always assumed pasta came with meat sauce, marinara, or, if you’re feeling fancy, Alfredo…Jason and I survived on spaghetti marinara for the first few years we were together, living in our dinky little basement apartment in Lincoln Park.  It was either that or Ramen noodles, and I really hate that stuff.  So it’s been really fun the past several years, since I’ve become a stay-at-home mom/foodie cook, discovering all pasta has to offer.

This Martha Stewart recipe has been sitting in my files for a few years now, and I really wish I would have pulled it out sooner!  The sweetness of the roasted cauliflower and onion coupled with the salty bite of the capers is really fantastic.  This is in the “can’t stop eating it” category, for sure.  We ate it as a main dish, with a green salad.  For those of you keeping track, my little picky eater loved it, too!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve noticed lately that cauliflower seems to be the new kale.  It’s everywhere!  When I told Margaux that I wanted to make this cauliflower pasta recipe, she said she’d been intending to make this one from Martha.  So we’ve made both and this is our first post.  I’m not sure I know which is my favorite – I loved both.  Look for a post on the other recipe soon.  We served this as a side dish to a roasted chicken breast and served the leftovers as a main dish, both with a green salad.  Yum either way!

1 large head cauliflower cut into small chunks (about 7 cups)
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1/4-1/3 cup capers, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
12 oz orecchiette pasta, whole wheat recommended
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available
1/3 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Preheat oven to 450. Toss the cauliflower, onion and capers with the olive oil in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread this mixture in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through, until cauliflower is tender and brown, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook, al dente, according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Turn the pasta back into the cooking pot or a large bowl.  Toss the hot pasta with the roasted cauliflower mixture, 1/4 cup of the pasta water,  the parsley and lemon zest.  Stir until completely combined.  Add more pasta water if too dry. Either add the cheese to the pot and stir to combine or pass the cheese to add to individual servings.

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Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe in a recent Bon Appetit and thought it fit right in to our Pasta Wednesday theme – easy, throw together quickly, healthy and delicious – even if it is hard to say!  It reminded me of another no-cook pasta sauce we posted a couple of years ago that had a variety of nuts but basically the same approach.  This recipe is a little less fancy, qualifying it for a perfect weeknight meal.  I love cooking with mint and nuts which are ubiquitous ingredients in Sicilian cooking.  (I must take a trip there one day.)  The quantities listed made a lot of pesto so I had a chance to experiment with different pastas.  I had it as a main dish on bow-tie pasta served with a salad.  I served, as you see in the photo, as a side dish to salmon. While  I liked it both ways, it’s very rich so I thought is was better as a side dish.  An Italian white wine is a perfect match, even better if you can find one from Sicily where they are a little on the richer side.

1/2 pound pasta makes 3 main and 4 side servings

1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled

3/4 cup diced plum tomato (2 tomatoes)

1 large garlic clove or 2 small

a handful of fresh mint leaves

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

a handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1/2-1 pound dried pasta, whole wheat recommended

Pulse the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed.  Turn into a bowl and add the olive oil.  Stir until creamy, a bit like chunky peanut butter.  Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain and rinse the pasta.  Return to the pot and add 1/2 cup of the pesto per 1/2 pound pasta.  Add a little of the pasta water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Add enough of the pasta water to make a creamy sauce.  Keep on the heat to heat through before serving.

NOTE:  The pesto can be refrigerated and used at a later date or used as a sandwich spread.

Bow-tie pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts
Aunt Suzy says . . . 

Randy made this really delicious pasta last fall, and I’ve been bugging him about it since we decided to do Pasta Wednesdays here at S&SK.  He finally brought over the cookbook where he found the recipe, Italian Light and Easy, a favorite standby of his originally published in 1993.  He pointed out the recipe he thought he used, but couldn’t exactly remember.  It used all the ingredients you see in this post except it was for a cold pasta salad!  I distinctly remembered that he served it as a hot dish, so I thought he must have improvised, which is what I did.  Not only is this dish Italian ” light and easy” it was lightning fast to put together, which fits perfectly with the Pasta Wednesday concept. This can be made in 30-minutes tops.  Serve with a green salad and a nice, crisp bottle of Pinot Grigio and you’re set for a great weeknight meal.

1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts

1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2-inch dice

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

10 ounces Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta – regular, whole wheat or GF

2 tablespoons olive oil

8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Cook the artichoke hearts according to package directions.  Drain.  When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Place the diced tomatoes into a small bowl and add the balsamic.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain and rinse the pasta.

While pasta is cooking, place the olive oil in a large saute pan (large enough to hold the pasta and other ingredients) and heat to medium.  After draining the pasta, place it in the preheated pan.  Stir to coat.  Add the reserved tomatoes and artichoke hearts and a little of the pasta water.  Stir to combine, adding more water if it is too dry.  Stir in the basil and parsley, salt and pepper.  Once all is thoroughly combined, you can either add the Parmigiano and continue stirring till melted or pass the cheese for people to add to their individual serving.

COOK’S NOTES:  I think this dish is perfect for whole wheat pasta which added a distinct flavor.  I imagine if you don’t have Balsamic vinegar on hand, that red wine would work as well.

Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’ve started something new here at Sweet and Savory Kitchens – Pasta Wednesdays. The idea is something quick and easy to make on a weeknight without sacrificing freshness and deliciousness. I got the idea when I made the Garlic and Kale Linguine a while back, so technically that could be considered our first Pasta Wednesday post. While this recipe (from last month’s Bon Appetit) isn’t quite as fast, it definitely fits. It caught my eye because I had some Garlic-Rosemary oil in the fridge left over from when I last made this soup. The quantities in that recipe always make more of the oil than we use at the time so I was happy to learn of a good additional use for it. And this is good! This can be a weeknight main dish or you can serve it, as we did, as a side to roast chicken or fish. Delicious with a creamy Italian white wine.

Margaux says…

I’m loving Pasta Wednesdays! Mainly because it helps give me a sort of direction when I’m meal planning for the week. We do Meatless Mondays at my house, so that’s two days now that I have narrowed down a little more. Now maybe I should add a pizza night in there, to make my job even easier…

This dish is fantastic…even my finicky 4-year-old gave it a thumbs up. We ate it as a main dish, with plenty of leftovers (which I love…makes lunches easy!!) I made it with white beans and penne pasta (as seen on Smitten Kitchen…see cook’s notes below). The white beans because that’s what I had on hand, and the penne because that’s what my son chose, and these days I’ll make anything he picks just so he’ll eat what I make for us. I probably would have chosen rotini, because i like the way sauces like this stick to the pasta. It was really great with the white beans, but next time I’m going to try it with the chick peas, which sounds really fantastic.

Use this recipe to make the Garlic-Rosemary Oil

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 celery stalk, cut in chunks
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10-ounces small pasta shapes (I used Lumachine – see Cook’s Notes)

Place the first 6 ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place into a bowl and clean the food processor bowl. Set both aside. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop these ingredients and then blend together in a bowl.

Place the olive oil into a large heavy pot or skillet (I used a saute pan) over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 10 or so minutes, until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into 1 cup of water to blend. When vegetables are cooked, add the tomato water and blend thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, 5-8 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Add the chickpeas and 2 cups water to the pan. Stir to blend and then simmer for 15 minutes covered and 5 or so uncovered. Put 1 cup of this mixture into the food processor and puree. (You could use a blender for this in the absence of a food processor.) Add back to the pan and stir to blend. Taste and add salt, if needed. I did not add salt to the sauce – even with rinsing, there was plenty of salt in the chickpeas.*

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to directions. I emphasize al dente because otherwise I think you could end up with a gloppy mess. Part of the goodness of this dish is mouth appeal, and you do not want to lose that with overcooked pasta! Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water if necessary to coat the pasta and attain a creamy consistency. Pass the Garlic-Rosemary oil so it can be drizzled on individual servings. Don’t hold back on this key component of the finished dish!

COOK’S NOTES: I was looking at Smitten Kitchen the other day and saw something that looked similar to this except with white beans and penne pasta. On closer look, it was her take on the Bon Appetit recipe. (You can check it out to see several great photos of the cooking process.) Regarding the pasta, the original recipe called for a full pound of Ditalini and suggested elbow macaroni as a substitute. I think any small pasta shape would work well. I cooked the whole pound as instructed, but felt that it was way too much pasta and didn’t stir it all into the sauce. I will definitely make this again and try whole wheat pasta, thinking it will add to both taste and texture.

*Margaux’s note on the salt…my boys like their food on the saltier side, so I definitely needed to add more salt. I added about a teaspoon of it.

Garlic and Kale Linguine

January 18, 2013

Garlic and Kale Linguine

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

The basis for this dish is a great recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for classic spaghetti with garlic and olive oil which I made recently.   Last week I saw another recipe for spaghetti and kale with similar ingredients but without the scientific technique of the CI recipe.  Randy and I both agreed that with or without the kale, the CI dish is outstanding.  The kale makes it just that much better and healthier!  This could be a main dish or a side.  Shown is a main dish portion, and we have also served with sauteed boneless/skinless chicken breast.  Either way, an Italian white,  Orivetto or Pinot Grigio, is a great accompaniment!

Makes 4 main dish or 6-8 first course servings

4 garlic cloves, peeled and processed through a garlic pressOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup high quality EV olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional or to taste

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a skillet

1/2-1 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano (omit for vegan)

3/4-1 pound whole wheat, regular or GF linguine or spaghetti

Place processed garlic in a small bowl and add the teaspoon of water.  Heat the olive oil to a little over medium in a saute pan.  Add the garlic, optional pepper flakes and kale and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until garlic is golden and kale is soft.  Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat.  Shake the pan regularly and watch carefully so they don’t burn!  At today’s prices especially that would be a shame. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Before draining, save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and rinse briefly.  Put the pasta back in the pot it was cooked in and place over medium heat.  Add the reserved kale mixture along with part or all of the pasta water and toss to combine thoroughly.  Heat through, stirring.

Place on individual plates and top with a little cheese, if using, and some pine nuts.  Alternatively, if you will be eating all of what was cooked, you can stir the cheese into the pasta before serving.  Then top with the pine nuts.

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This past week, the New York Times had a group of risottos in it’s “Recipes for Health” column that combined different grains or rices with the traditional risotto rice, Arborio.  They all caught my eye, but I started with this one because I have wanted to make something with farro for a while and have not.  This dish is a WOW!  The herbs and lemon add freshness to the taste and the farro creates a wonderful  chewy mouth appeal.  We served with an Italian Orvieto white wine and a green salad.  This falls into the “easy” category except for the need to stand at the stove and stir for about 40 minute.  Totally worth it!

NOTE:  I like this blog post from The Chef In You about farro and how to cook it.  I found “pearled” farro in bulk at our local coop.  It also comes in semi-pearled and non-pearled varieties, the latter of which needs to be pre-soaked. If you can’t find it locally, you can order from Amazon or here.

Makes 6 servings

6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (I used chicken)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed thoroughly of sand

Salt to taste

2 plump garlic cloves, minced

2/3 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups cooked farro (1 cup uncooked)

2 cups chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, chives, thyme (I used a cup of parsley, a cup of basil and 2 tablespoons lemon thyme)

Freshly ground pepper

2 ounces grated Parmesan (1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the farro according to directions and set aside.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan, then turn the heat to low.  Make sure this is on a burner handy to the main pan you will cook the risotto in.

Heat the oil a large saute pan or heavy saucepan on medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add a generous pinch of salt, the garlic and the rice. Cook, stirring, for about 3 more minutes.

Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until absorbed and almost evaporated. Next, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock – enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the farro and more stock to cover and continue to cook, adding more stock as necessary and stirring often, for another 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked through but al dente.   If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasonings.  NOTE:  Make sure you watch for dryness and stir often as the mixture tended to stick once the farro was added.

Stir in the herbs and fresh pepper (be generous), add another ladleful of stock and continue to cook, stirring, for a minute.  Finally, add the Parmesan and the lemon juice, stir together and remove from the heat. The risotto should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock.  Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.  Prepare for your taste buds to be delighted!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

When I lived in Boston in the 80’s, this dish was served in many restaurants in the North End Italian neighborhood.  This simple, yet flavorful pasta dish  was new to me.  I immediately loved it and ordered it often.  One of my favorite restaurants, L’Osteria, made the best rendition so I asked them for the recipe.  It’s so simple!  Olive oil, garlic, red peppers, chicken, pasta and cheese.  I see that L’Osteria is still open and still serves this dish, Chicken Maccheroni & Broccoli.  So if you are in Boston, I recommend that you check them out.  But if  not, you can make this dish easily and authentically following my recipe. Excellent with a fruity Pinot Grigio or a light Italian Red, like a Valpolicella.

Serves 4 as a main dish and 6 as a first course (quantities easily adjusted up or down)

1-2 chicken breasts, depending on whether you want more or less chicken

4-6 cups broccoli florets

3/4-1 pound medium pasta shapes, (like the rigatoni shown or ziti, rotini, radiatore, cavatappi, etc.)

1/4 cup EV Olive Oil

2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste

1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheese, Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano

Season the chicken with salt and pepper only or also with your choice of herbs/spices.  I use Italian Street Fair, a blend of smoked peppers, onion, garlic, fennel and spices.  Cook the seasoned chicken breasts until just done, 4-6 minutes a side, depending on thickness.   I used my stovetop panini press, but a grill pan, broiler or gas or charcoal grill would work.   Set aside to cool slightly.  When cooled, slice the chicken in roughly 1/4 x 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Steam the broccoli to al dente and set aside.  Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Before draining, save 1/2 cup pasta water.  Drain the pasta, rinse and set aside.

Heat a large dutch oven over a medium burner.  Add the olive oil and heat till shimmering.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes.  Saute for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add the chicken and broccoli and stir to thoroughly blend and heat.

Add the pasta and pasta water.  Stir to blend.  Place the lid on the pot and heat for about 5 minutes until all is piping hot.  You can serve as is and pass the cheese or for a creamier dish, you can add the cheese and stir to blend till melted.  I recommend stirring in the cheese only if you don’t anticipate left-overs.  If you know you’ll have left-overs, it’s easier to heat up the dish later without the added cheese.

COOKS NOTES:  Many recipes suggest you cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and cook along with the garlic and hot pepper and then add the cooked broccoli.  I think this makes for rubbery chicken pieces, but if you’re in a hurry this could be an option.  I used 1 1/2 chicken breasts this time and thought this was a perfect amount.  I had 4 cups of broccoli and wished it would have been 5 cups.  This dish definitely stands up to whole wheat pasta.  While I think Parmigiano is more authentic, I prefer this dish with the earthier and creamier sheep’s milk Romano.  Don’t be daunted by all the steps.   This is a great weeknight recipe that comes together really fast.  This is also served in restaurants with shrimp or vegetarian/no meat or seafood.