Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives

When I first meet J, in college, I was wowed by his prowess in the kitchen.  He had two specialties: one was a fried egg sandwich, and the other a box of Spanish rice to which he added a can of black beans and shredded cheddar cheese.  He made it look so easy.  I was smitten.

Later our shared cooking repertoire expanded quite significantly, but J remains a man with a specialty.  These days it’s a perfectly grilled side of salmon or an impeccable vinaigrette, but for a few years (about a decade ago) J’s claim to fame in the kitchen was pasta puttanesca.  He’d whip up a pan on nights when we both worked late and were too tired to deal with the CSA vegetables or walk three blocks to the nearest restaurant.

We were pleasantly reminded of those pasta puttanesca days tonight with this dish from the NY Times Recipes for Health series.  The genius improvement, though, is that this recipe incorporates another family favorite: roasted cauliflower.  We used whole wheat pasta because we’re crunchy like that (and it was great), but you do what you like.

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives:  Drizzle a broken-up head of cauliflower with olive oil and salt and roast at 450 until golden brown.  (The recipe recommends blanching it first, which I did this time, but I usually skip this step.)  Meanwhile, saute a few chopped cloves of garlic and a few pinches of red pepper flakes in olive oil for a minute until fragrant, then stir in a 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, a tsp. dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and a big pinch each of sugar and salt.  Let simmer until saucy, then stir in the roasted cauliflower and a big handful of torn olives.  Serve over pasta, garnished with chopped parsley and feta cheese.

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38 thoughts on “Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives

  1. VogueVegetarian

    Mmmm! I can tell by looking at the ingredients this one will be a winner in my household. I am happy to see you added a pinch of sugar. It seems a lot of folks leave that out but it adds the right balance to dishes like that that oddly enhance the savory side of the dish. Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I always, always have olives on hand, but used up the end of the last jar in my fridge for this recipe. I felt a little uncomfortable all day about the olive shortage. I will have to go shopping tomorrow.

      Reply
  2. Laura MacCleery

    This looks amazing! I’d have to figure out a sub for the canned tomatoes, though, since the canned stuff basically all has BPA or some such nonsense in the lining… would chopped tomatoes be ok?

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I’m sure they would. I thought of you as I gave the stinkeye to the two Muir Glen cans in my pantry–I bought them after they announced that the cans were now BPA free and before you announced that their announcement was meaningless drivel. How do you feel about TetraPaks? I like the Pomi tomatoes that come in those. Trying to buy tomatoes in Seattle is truly hopeless most of the year so I need a solution here!

      Reply
      1. Laura MacCleery

        Sadly, I’m working up a long post on my unsettling investigation into the “dicey” world of sauce packaging… no ready solution, sad to say. When I asked a few hard questions of the companies, I got… crickets. Unnerving, really.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      The only problem was that I left the pan on the stove for a while and the pile of roasted cauliflower kept shrinking as people walked by–it’s too good! :)

      Reply
  3. Somer

    That looks really delicious Emmy! I love the idea of adding roasted cauliflower to the puttanesca!

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I like when I can switch up the traditional proportions and have a little pasta with a lot of sauce–adding extra veggies is great for that! And the flavors are a really nice combo here. If you leave out the feta you want a few capers (or just more olives) for that additional briny tang!

      Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I like it a lot. But you know how I feel about cauliflower. I will try to give it a rest now, though, since springtime veggies are finally showing up. Yay! :)

      Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      Oh, yes! The challenge is holding onto it once it’s roasted as it tends to get eaten straight from the pan around here. But if you hide it, you can do all sorts of nice things with it!

      Reply
  4. Little Sis

    I think you are my long lost twin. This looks VERY much like my very loose dinner plan this evening. Now I can cheat and use yours. :-) Thanks!

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      Oh, Stefan, it’s worse than you know even. But now that we are friends I can admit that I didn’t even use GOOD feta; that’s a low-fat one you see in the photo. I say try the ricotta salata by all means! :)

      Reply
      1. StefanGourmet

        :-) :-)

        My main reason for not using much feta (besides staying away from Greek-Italian fusion) is that good feta is hard to get overhere. The supermarket stuff is just dry and very salty. In Greece it was lovely and I was eating it all the time.

  5. Eileen

    Yes, roasted cauliflower & olives are such a winning combination! Always a great way to shovel many vegetables into your system. :)

    Reply
  6. Michelle

    When Steve & I met, he had 2 meals he could do: linguine with clams & chicken or veal marsala. Not knowing anything about Italian food at the time, I was so impressed! One of his earliest additions to those 2 dishes was a puttanesca. This looks wonderful! Of course, I’d put roasted cauliflower without complaint in almost any dish.

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      We are so easily won over. You know what they say about the way to a woman’s heart being through her stomach. Or something. :)

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Roasted Cauliflower Pesto Pasta – A Happy Marriage of Flavours « jittery cook

  8. soupandsuch

    This looks so good. Roasted cauliflower is such a treat but I never thought to add it to a spicy pasta. I’m planning on using this recipe for inspiration for tomorrow night’s dinner! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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