Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Feta

Work has been draining this week, so on the walk home today, I was incredibly tempted to just stop at the new sushi place near my house.  Instead, I dragged myself home and cooked.  How can a recipe that's so simple and so easy be delicious?  And it can almost be considered healthy.  It's just craziness.  This is not a pretty dish.  This is not a dish to serve to company, because it doesn't look appetizing. 

I was too tired to even think about doing creative substitutions.  I did substitute crushed chilis for dried pepper flakes and used a bit more than a pinch because I like spice.  I also left out the onion and scaled down most of the recipe, except for the cheese.  Measurements below have not been adjusted.

Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Feta (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Chez Panisse Vegetables)


2 heads cauliflower
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
500g whole-wheat pasta
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
White wine vinegar
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
4 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese 

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cut the cauliflower into small flowerets. Peel the onion and slice it very thin. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Put the pasta on to cook.
2. Saute the cauliflower in olive oil in a large saute pan.
3. When the cauliflower begins to soften, season with salt and pepper and add the sliced onion and red pepper flakes. Saute over medium to high heat until the vegetables are brown and tender. The cauliflower should still be slightly crunchy and should not taste steamed.
4. Add the garlic and remove from the heat, tossing and stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn; if it starts to brown, add a splash of water. Add a few drops each of vinegar and lemon juice and the toasted walnuts. Taste and correct the seasoning.
5. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the cauliflower, adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the pasta thoroughly, toss together and serve, with the cheese crumbled over the dish.

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