This easy broiled cauliflower pasta dish combines enticing flavors and textures to create a simple, satisfying, vegetarian weeknight meal.
My love for cauliflower knows no bounds and broiling is my favorite way to prepare it. You can use broiled cauliflower so many ways: as a topping for homemade hummus or tartines, a garnish for soups and salads, or a mix in for fried rice and risotto.
But my favorite way to use broiled cauliflower has to be—of course!—pasta. In this recipe for Lemony Broiled Cauliflower Pasta, the cauliflower soaks in the flavors of shallots and garlic while broiling, and the delicious morcels are then folded with spinach (nutritious!), lemon zest and juice (zesty!), Pecorino Romano cheese (tangy!), crushed red pepper (punchy!), and toasted almonds (crunchy!) This recipe is a simple, satisfying, vegetarian weeknight meal that would also do well as a primi piatti in a more elaborate, weekend meal.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and set a rack in the upper third of the oven (do not place the rack at the highest position.) Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly oil the aluminum foil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower florets, shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt, and crushed red pepper. Spread the cauliflower mixture over the baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is browned in spots. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the recommended cooking time. Just before you drain the pasta, scoop out 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
Return the pot you used to cook the pasta over medium heat. Add the pasta, the reserved pasta cooking water, and the lemon zest and juice. Toss to combine and bring to a simmer. Gradually sprinkle in the Pecorino Romano, stirring as you go to melt and incorporate the cheese. Mix in the broiled cauliflower, baby spinach, and basil. Keep cooking and stirring just until everything’s hot and the baby spinach is wilted.
SERVING: Serve hot broiled cauliflower pasta garnished with additional grated Pecorino Romano cheese and toasted almonds.
STORAGE: This broiled cauliflower pasta keeps and reheats very well. Simply store leftovers in an airtight container and reheat for about 1 minute in the microwave before serving. You can also reheat the pasta in a skillet over medium heat, adding a tablespoon or two of water to help loosen it.
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