Very exciting news here from the Spotted Apron kitchen – I bought my first mandoline. In celebration of the one month anniversary of the blog perhaps? As you can tell, it’s definitely not an expensive Williams-Sonoma mandoline but it’s still pretty awesome. If I like it and get a lot of use out of it, then I’ll spring for an expensive one. I have lived with the fear (which I’ve realized is very realistic) of cutting off a finger tip with the mandoline. And sure enough I cut my thumb, not badly but enough to freak me out. You have to be so careful with the mandoline but it can slice veggies razor thin so it’s worth the risk factor.
Onions were my first vegetable on the mandoline for this cauliflower pasta. I have sliced many veggies, including Yukon Gold potatoes in order to make the most delicious homemade potato chips (recipe soon to come). But the onions in this recipe were wonderful because they added flavor and cooked quickly, allowing the cauliflower to really be the stand out ingredient. I found this beautiful cauliflower at a vegetable stand nearby and just had to use it in a recipe. I had never seen purple and golden cauliflower so I bought it and attempted to find a recipe that highlighted the cauliflower.
This recipe comes from Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Vegetables. The cauliflower remains crunchy because it’s not steamed or boiled, instead it’s lightly sautéed. My only complaint is that I should have added more extra virgin olive oil. The taste of the cauliflower, walnuts, and ricotta salata all complimented one another wonderfully but there was not much of a “sauce” for the pasta. I think you just have to go for it and coat the whole wheat pasta with extra virgin olive oil and then mix it with the cauliflower mixture. I tend to not add a lot of oil to my recipes but the whole wheat pasta really absorbs any moisture so it can easily dry out. This dish was even more delicious the next day for lunch.
Oh yeah, quick tip on cutting up cauliflower…you want to end up with small little trees, not lots of crumbs. Start at the base of the cauliflower and cut where there are natural breaks so you end up with lots of small looking trees and it keeps the natural shape of cauliflower. Or else you might end up with breadcrumbs and lots of waste if you just randomly chop away.
Mulit-Colored Cauliflower with Whole Wheat Pasta
Adapted from Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables
- 2 heads cauliflower (you can use white cauliflower)
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 pound 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. When the cauliflower begins to soften, season with salt and pepper and add the sliced onion and red pepper flakes.
3. 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. 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.
4. 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.