Roasted Cauliflower with Pancetta, Olives and Crisp Parmesan over Fettucine

This might be the best pasta recipe I have ever made. It’s based on one from Melissa Clark. I made a few changes which I note below.

Melissa writes: “Studded with salty olives, pancetta and Parmesan that gets golden and crisp at the edges, this is roasted cauliflower at its brightest and most full-flavored. You can serve the caramelized florets either as a vegetable-based main dish or a hearty side to roasted meats or fish, or big bowls of pasta. The recipe calls for using a package of finely diced pancetta that practically melts into the sauce. But if you prefer a chunkier texture, you can dice it yourself into 1/2-inch cubes, and add them with the cauliflower. Or, to make this vegetarian, just leave the pancetta out.”

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 8 cups)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • cup olives, crushed, pitted and chopped (I used Castelvetrano olives.)
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely grated or minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin or caraway seeds (I used cumin seeds.)
  • ½ cup shredded (not ground) Parmesan
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or mint leaves and tender stems, for serving (I didn’t have so I used fresh chives.)

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet (I used a cast iron pan) and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well coated. Roast for 15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olives, garlic, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking well.
  3. After the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, add pancetta and cumin seeds to pan and gently mix to combine. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender, the pancetta rendered, and cheese is golden brown and crunchy. (I added #4 to the cast iron pan for a few minutes.)
  4. Spoon olive dressing all over roasted cauliflower while still hot and toss to combine. Taste, and add more salt, red-pepper flakes or lemon juice, if needed. Scatter parsley over the top before serving. (I used fresh chivies.)

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot and Cauliflower Salad

This is based on a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

I made it last week following their recipe (stove-top) and I made it for an Easter dinner and I roasted the ingredients.

I prefer the roasted version.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, and blotted dry
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup orange juice
chopped fresh mint

Directions

Preheat over to 450. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil with chickpeas. Roast chickpeas for 30-40 minutes until nicely toasted. Keep you eye on these so they do not burn. Removed and set aside. Combine carrots and cauliflower with olive oil and salt and roast for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. In a large frying pan (I used a wok) heat stock and orange juice with the smoked paprika and cumin. Reduce slightly and then add the chickpeas, carrots, and cauliflower and heat through for about 5-10 minutes. Top with mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

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Curried Cauliflower with Dahl

I don’t often cook with cauliflower. It’s not that I don’t want to, I like eating cauliflower, but cauliflower seems to turn brown if you don’t use it the day you buy it.

However,  here are two cauliflower meals I have made and both were delicious:

Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate, Mint and Tahini

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Capers and Raisins

And I have often substituted it for broccoli in pasta dishes.

A few  days ago I saw orange and purple-colored cauliflowers at the grocery store and I actually had a hard time choosing between the two colors. But, the orange cauliflower called out to me as a big ball of sunshine in the produce aisle. When I got home, Susan said “You bought cauliflower! I love cauliflower. What are you going to make?”

Quoting from the book (beautiful and informative book):  Produce, A Fruit and Vegetable Lover’s Guide:

“Cauliflower is hardly the most glamorous of vegetables but, like its siblings, the cabbages, it has been enjoyed through the ages. The ancient Romans doted on it, and then it fell victim to the barbarian scourge, disappearing for centuries. The Renaissance brought a reflowering of many things, the cabbage flower but one. And if we needed evidence that it finally arrived, a bit of culinary flattery would do it—and eighteenth -century French chef created a dish, probably a puree, that would forever link cauliflower with Louis XV’s Madame du Barry.

“Mark Twain called it ‘nothing but cabbage with a college education’ and he was reasonably accurate. Cauliflower is simply a cabbage that has been trained to produce firm bunches of flowers, and some modern varieties have even been educated to shelter the curd (the technical name) from sunlight by wrapping leaves around it. Less precocious varieties have been tied to effect the necessary blanching that produces a pale, delicately flavored result.”

Okay. Enough history and science. There will be no quiz. Let’s get on with the recipe!

This is really a recipe of curried vegetables from a great cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups red lentils or yellow split peas (I used red lentils.)
4 or 5 cups water (I used my homemade chicken stock.)
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 fresh green chile, minced (I used a jalapeno, seeded, from my garden.)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon mild curry powder (I used 2 tablespoons.)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used a heaping teaspoon!)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 cups water
1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups florets)
2 green or red bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
10 ounces fresh spinach
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Directions:

Rinse the lentils or split peas. Lentils cook faster and absorb less water than split peas, so use 4 cups of water for lentils, 5 cups of water for split peas. In a covered saucepan, bring the water and lentils or peas to a boil. reduce heat, uncover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and chile in the oil for several minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, curry powder, cumin, and ginger and continue to saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the 2 cups of water. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. Add the bell peppers, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the vegetables simmer, rinse, stem, and coarsely chop the spinach. Pour the lentils or peas and their cooking liquid into a blender or food processor, and puree for 2 to 3 minutes to make a smooth dahl. (I didn’t do this as the lentils were very much broken down.) When the cauliflower is tender, stir in the spinach, the dahl and the lemon juice. Simmer just until the spinach has wilted. Add salt to taste, and serve immediately.

4 to 6 servings