Cauliflower With Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Plenty of Parsley and Pasta
The cauliflower becomes golden and aromatic. As a variation, omit the cheese, and top the finished dish with 1 pound peeled, deveined Gulf shrimp that you have and sautéed with chopped garlic and parsley.
1 head cauliflower (about 11/2 pounds), broken into small florets and the core diced (about 6 cups)
8 ounces dried small pasta shells or other shapes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for tossing pasta
1 small onion, finely diced
2 pinches saffron threads
1 large garlic clove, minced
Scant 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped, lightly packed flat-leaf parsley
Grated aged cheese or crumbled feta (optional)
Bring a big pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set prepped cauliflower in a heatproof colander and place over the pot; cover and steam about 3 minutes. Taste a piece; it should be on the verge of tenderness but not quite fully cooked. Uncover and transfer the colander to the sink to drain.
Let the water return to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt and cook the pasta just until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and saffron about 6 minutes, stirring often, until the onion has softened. The heat will activate the saffron so that it colors and flavors the onion. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes and a few pinches of the parsley. Add the steamed cauliflower. Toss to coat evenly. Add 1/2 cup water and cook over medium heat until cauliflower is tender, just a few minutes.
Season with salt, toss with half of the remaining parsley and keep warm.
Drain pasta and transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with a few tablespoons of oil and remaining parsley. Taste for salt, then spoon the cauliflower over the pasta, wiggle some of it into the pasta crevices and sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed).
Per serving: 310 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 9 g protein.