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.