Growing up, cauliflower meant over-boiled tasteless mush. The only way I would eat it, without lots of complaining, was with a slice of American cheese melted on top, at least that way it had flavor, even if the texture was still crappy. Once we got a microwave (seriously ageing myself here), the texture got better, because we were essentially steaming it, but the cheese was still required. So needless to say, cauliflower has never been a favorite. In fact I don’t usually buy the stuff. It came with the first order from my produce delivery (see previous posts: Produce Wednesday, here and here).
So realizing that it probably had to be nutritious being in the same family as broccoli (which I love [steamed], by the way; but not as a kid, again over-boiling). I decided to go ahead and give it a try. I found a really cool recipe in The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen called Ditali with Cauliflower. Ditali is just tubular pasta… can’t go wrong with a pasta dish. I usually pair my pasta with some green or kalamata olives; I put them on the side, on top, cooked within the sauce, etc… I like the brine-y-vinegar-y-ness that I get every few bites. So it turns out that the capers in this dish give me that brine-vinegar kick. The pasta was very comforting, I usually buy whole wheat pasta, but I wanted the tube-shape so I bought the regular kind, which was kind of a ‘blast from the past’ as it were. I was very pleased with this dish. I upgraded it from ‘Good’ to ‘Very Good’ once I had it as leftovers. By letting the flavors mingle overnight this dish really came into its own. I also added tomato sauce because it was a bit dry the next day, the tomato sauce really made this dish something I will make again. As for the cauliflower, the texture is nice and it takes on the flavor of the sauce.
Oh, one word of warning… this makes A LOT of food (read: 17 cups of food)!
Ditali with Cauliflower
adapted from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen
Rating: Very Good
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. head of cauliflower, cut into florets, then finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/4 cup vegetable broth (I use Better Than Bouillon
Organic Vegetable Base and water)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (I use Amore)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. saffron threads, steeped in 1/4 cup hot vegetable broth (that’s an additional amt of broth) 10 minutes.
16 oz. ditali or other sm. tubular pasta (tubetti)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
- Chop your vegetables (cauliflower, garlic).
- Start the water for the pasta.
- In a large deep-sided nonstick skillet with a lid (I used a Dutch-oven), heat oil over med-low heat. Add cauliflower and cook until crisp tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced tomatoes w/ their juices, capers, broth, tomato paste, salt, and pepper; bring to a brisk simmer over med-high heat. (Start your saffron threads steeping.) Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes covered, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very tender. Stir in the saffron mixture and increase the heat to medium. Cook uncovered until the liquids are greatly reduced, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While reducing the liquids in the cauliflower mixture… Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain well, add to the cauliflower mixture.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and basil, cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Serve hot.