Meatless Monday – Penne with Roasted Cauliflower & Greens

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Move over pasta with tomato sauce, penne with cauliflower roasted with parmesan and buttery wilted greens will knock you out of the ring! This is an easy and delicious, complete dinner in one bowl. Pasta is an easy go to for dinner because it’s inexpensive and quick to prepare.  Did you know that the average American eats 20 pounds of pasta a year? That’s a lot of carbs but luckily there are many whole grain and nutritious pastas from which to choose that are not empty calories but actualy boost nutrients and dietary fiber.  My current favorite is Ancient Grains Penne by Tru Roots (that I buy from Costco) made with a blend of organic whole grains including, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and corn. It is naturally gluten free and has a great taste and texture in addition to all of it’s wholesome goodness.

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Cauliflower is not only one of the World’s Healthiest Foods, it’s also a vegetable chameleon that can take on many flavors and textures depending on how it’s prepared. When roasted, especially with a sprinkling of parmesan, cauliflower becomes golden brown with rich and salty/sweet caramel flavors.  The crispy, almost burned bits of parmesan are divine so make sure you scrape them in with the cauliflower.  Roasted cauliflower also pairs nicely with the sauteed garlic and fresh greens.  I love an extra sprinkle of parmesan and red pepper flakes on top for an extra flavor boost.

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TIPS: I had a big bag of power greens that included spinach, chard and kale but any leafy green will work in this recipe. The trick is to not overcook the greens so they don’t lose their deep glossy green hue.  (Thicker greens like collards may need to saute a bit longer.) If you love greens, add more than you think.  They shrink quite a bit when cooked. One bunch is usually about 2 cups so plan according to your tastes. Don’t forget to save a cup of pasta water before draining. It is a miracle liquid and not to be underestimated. You can add it back to the pasta if needed to give it more of a ‘sauce’ and avoid  the temptation of adding more oil or butter.

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PENNE WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND GREENS

3/4 lb penne pasta
1 head cauliflower
1 large bunch spinach (kale, arugula or chard)
2 shallots (or 1/2 yellow onion), finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)

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  • Cut or break up cauliflower into bite sized florets. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet in a single layer and spray or brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, red pepper flakes and half of the parmesan (if using) and bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times to brown all sides and get all the crunchy parmesan bits off the pan (yum!).

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  • Remove cauliflower from oven when easily pierced with a knife and let cool.

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  • Boil pasta as directed and reserve one cup of pasta water before draining.  Set aside.

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  • Saute red pepper flakes, garlic and shallots in olive oil until soft and fragrant, 4 or 5 minutes.

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  • Add greens and saute until just wilted, remove from heat.

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  • Stir in the cauliflower and pasta, adding pasta water as needed.

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  • To serve, sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

 

Penne with Roasted Cauliflower and Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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3/4 lb penne pasta
1 head cauliflower
1 large bunch spinach (kale, arugula or chard)
2 shallots (or 1/2 yellow onion), finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)

  • Cut or break up cauliflower into bite sized florets.
  • Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet in a single layer and spray or brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes and half of the parmesan and bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times to brown all sides and get all the crunchy parmesan bits off the pan (yum!).
  • Boil pasta as directed and reserve one cup of pasta water before draining.  Set aside.
  • Saute garlic and shallots in olive oil until soft and fragrant, 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Add spinach and saute until just wilted, remove from heat.
  • Stir in the cauliflower and pasta, adding pasta water as needed.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

 

Meatless Monday – Spice Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower

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If you are looking for a dramatic (and delicious) non-meat entre, I have a goodie for you to try this holiday season.  You have probably roasted cauliflower florets before, or maybe you have even made cauliflower ‘steaks’, but what about roasting the whole darn thing? I have seen photos of cauliflower cooked this way but have never tried it until now. All I can say is ‘What was I waiting for?’

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I have called cauliflower a vegetable chameleon before because it is so adaptable and a great substitute for many less healthy ingredients, so I decided to take it a step further and prepare it like a ‘meat’ for roasting. I removed the stem and leaves, brushed the outer head with a thick spicy sauce made with chili powder, cumin, garlic and cayenne pepper and then roasted in a hot oven for almost an hour.  The sauce becomes a spicy and yummy crust and the interior is creamy goodness.  I served it in wedges. Yum!

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Can cauliflower really serve as a main course and not just a side dish?  It’s just a white veggie, so how can it have enough nutrients to be the star of the show?  Well, in comparison it’s not going to have as much protein as a steak but it’s also not going to have all the fat and calories either.  Cauliflower has a surprising number of nutrients for something so pale and unassuming.  One cup cooked = 2.28 grams of protein. Cauliflower is also a good source of fiber, phytonutrients and omega 3 fatty acids, plus vitamin C, a host of B vitamins and minerals (manganese, phosphorus and potassium). Cauliflower is known to help in fighting cancer and preventing cardiovascular disease.  I’m pretty sure that meat can’t make those ‘health’ claims. Just sayin’.

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TIPS:  For an even more colorful display, try using yellow, purple or green cauliflower. This is a fairly spicy and flavorful coating which can be toned down by reducing the amount of cayenne pepper and/or chili powder.  Or you could add a half cup of plain yogurt (any kind) into the spice mix.  I have made it both ways (with and without yogurt) and it looks pretty much the same either way but the yogurt makes the end result a little more mild.

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SPICE CRUSTED WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

1 head cauliflower
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
2 Tbsn chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 Tbsn garlic powder)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

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  • Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking dish with vegetable oil. Set aside. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem and place on prepared baking dish.

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  • In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients

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  • Using a pastry brush, evenly spread the marinade to cover the entire surface of the cauliflower.

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  •  Roast about 45 minutes. Check for doneness (it should be easily pierced with a sharp knife).  Cook for another 15 miinutes, if necessary.

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  • For a pretty presentation, move to a serving platter.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.

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Spice Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head cauliflower
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
2 Tbsn chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 Tbsn garlic powder)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

  • Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking dish with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  • Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem and place on prepared baking dish..
  • In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients
  • Using a pastry brush, evenly spread the marinade to cover the entire surface of the cauliflower.
  • Roast about 45 minutes. Check for doneness (it should be easily pierced with a sharp knife).  Cook for another 15 miinutes, if necessary.
  • Cut into wedges and serve warm.

 

Meatless Monday – Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Capers and Lemon

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“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education” – Mark Twain

Move over broccoli, cauliflower is the new girl in town! Although both are superfoods and loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, cauliflower might be considered the smarter, more sophisticated sister. She is also somewhat of a chameleon, standing in for grain in pizza crust and couscous or as a carbfree mashed ‘potatoes’.  Cauliflower can also be pretty flashy, with varieties that are downright out of a Dr. Seuss book in vibrant orange, green and purple. I used white but purple cauliflower would be really striking in this dish.

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Photo Credit: Huffpost Living

Here is an easy but elegant 20 minute meal which was inspired by a similar recipe from Martha Stewart.  It’s beauty is its simplicity which allows each lovely ingredient to shine and, of course, cauliflower is the shining star.  The combination of the roasted cauliflower with salty capers. fresh oregano, zesty red pepper flakes and tangy lemon is delicious and satisfying.  For cheese lovers, a sprinkle of parmesan pulls all the flavors together.

TIPS:  This recipe calls for a pan that can go from stovetop to oven, however, if you don’t have a pan that can do both you have two options; cook the pasta then transfer everything to an ovenproof pan OR saute the cauliflower mixture for a few minutes and then stir it into the cooked pasta.

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For my nutrition and health conscious friends who want to delve deeper into the goodness of cauliflower, here is an article that lists 8 Amazing Health Benefits of Cauliflower including heart and brain health.  Surprisingly, it is also a good detoxifyer so don’t be surprised if you see cauliflower start showing up in smoothies… For more cauliflower recipes, check out these grain free recipes: Cauliflower Crust PizzaCauliflower ‘Mac’ and Cheese and Tabouleh.  For more cauliflower inspirations, here are a few more:  Creamy Cauliflower Leek SoupDahl Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower CakesMorroccan Style Cauliflower and Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Olives.  Obviously, I’m a big fan!

SPAGHETTI WITH CAULIFLOWER, CAPERS AND LEMON

1 lb spaghetti, bucatini or linguini
4 cups cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn fresh oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 Tbsn fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest3 Tbsn capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup parmesan

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  • Cook pasta in salted water for about 8 minutes.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining. While pasta is cooking, cut cauliflower into small florets.

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  • In a bowl, combine cauliflower, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and zest, capers and parmesan.

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  •  Toss to combine and set aside until pasta is done.

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  • Sprinkle cauliflower mixture over cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Add 1/2 cup pasta water.20150329_204148

 

  • Broil for about 5 minutes or until the cauliflower has spots of golden brown and pasta is heated through.

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  • Toss to combine and add more pasta water if it seems dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired and serve with extra parmesan, if desired.

 

Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Capers and Lemon

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 lb spaghetti, bucatini or linguini
4 cups cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn fresh oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 Tbsn fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest3 Tbsn capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup parmesan

  • Cook pasta in salted water for about 8 minutes.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
  • While pasta is cooking, cut cauliflower into small florets,
  • In a bowl, combine cauliflower, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and zest, capers and parmesan.
  • Sprinkle cauliflower mixture over cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Add 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • Broil for about 5 minutes or until the cauliflower has spots of golden brown and pasta is heated through.
  • Toss to combine and add more pasta water if it seems dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired and serve with extra parmesan, if desired.

Wheatless Wednesday – Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

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Size isn’t supposed to matter, but…   Wait, I don’t know what you’re thinking but I’m talking about cauliflower.  I opened my most recent CSA box to find the largest head of cauliflower I have ever seen. Criminy!  A cauliflower that impressive deserved star treatment.  I had recently made Roasted Cauliflower based on a recipe from Bon Appetit that was delicious and I couldn’t wait to make it again.  This time, though, I opted to keep the florets large (going back to the bigger is better theme) instead of breaking them into small florets.  I was tempted to cut the  head into 5 or 6 thick slices (or cauliflower ‘steaks’) but realized that  13 people were coming for dinner so that idea wasn’t going to work.  Perhaps next time…

Cauliflower

Here is your fun fact of the day.  Did you know that the compact head of a cauliflower is called a ‘curd’?  Nope, me neither.  I learn something new every day, especially when I let my fingers do the walking, aka googling! Cauliflower is a cousin to other cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards, although they look nothing alike.  Cauliflower florets are actually undeveloped flower buds which are white because growers make sure the leaves are protecting them from sunlight and preventing them from making chlorophyll.  Otherwise cauliflower would be greenish (cool huh?).  Cauliflower is a good source of fiber and vitamin C and low in carbohydrates which makes it a great substitute for grains and potatoes. I have used cauliflower in place of carbs with great success many times, like in my Cauliflower Pizza Crust (yes, really), Cauliflower Puree (instead of mashed potatoes), a Grain Free Tabouleh (raw, vegan) and even a yummy Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese. In today’s recipe, cauliflower is roasted at a high heat along with olive oil, onions, garlic and thyme and then tossed with parmesan. Mmmm!!! It’s definitely a crowd favorite.  So good!

TIP:  Cutting the larger florets in half gives a flat surface which more easily carmelizes into a golden brown. If you are only serving  a small group, try slicing the head into one inch slices so both sides are easy to carmelize.  I’m definitely trying that next time.

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PARMESAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
1 head cauliflower
1 large yellow onion
8-10 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried Italian Herbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Cut cauliflower into large florets and slice them in half. Place them on a large rimmed baking sheet flat side down.

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  • Slice onion into thin wedges, taking care not to remove too much of the stem end.  You want to keep the wedges together, Peel garlic and cut larger cloves in half.

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  • Add onions and garlic to cauliflower.  Sprinkle with thyme and generously season with salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil to coat.

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  • Roast, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes turning them over half way through.

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  • Sprinkle with Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender, another 10 minutes.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head cauliflower
1 large yellow onion
8-10 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried Italian Herbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Cut cauliflower into large florets and slice them in half. Place them on a large rimmed baking sheet flat side down.
  • Slice onion into thin wedges, taking care not to remove too much of the stem end.  You want to keep the wedges together. Peel garlic and cut larger cloves in half.
  • Add onions and garlic to cauliflower.  Sprinkle with thyme and generously season with salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil to coat.
  • Roast, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes turning them over half way through.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender, another 10 minutes.