Since cauliflower is one of the Clean Fifteen, I’m always trying to find new ways to use it in my cooking.
The one complaint that I sometimes hear is that it is rather bland looking or monochromatic when mixed with pasta or rice – or God forbid, on a white plate!
Well, never fear – colorful cauliflower is here!
No, the purple and orange cauliflower you sometimes see in the farmers market or at Whole Foods is not dyed or genetically modified. According to kitchn, purple cauliflower contains the antioxidant anthocyanin – also found in cabbage and red wine – while orange cauliflower has more beta carotene.
Notice that my firm heads of cauliflower have tightly packed flowerettes, plenty of bright green leaves, and look like they have been harvested recently. Although most heads of cauliflower may have minor blemishes, you shouldn’t see lots of brown spots – just lovely, fresh-looking cauliflower.
However, the downside to some cooking methods (like steaming or boiling) is that the gorgeous color will leach out leaving you with a less than vibrant veggie.
That’s why I like roasting the purple and orange cauliflower in a very hot oven – which gives you a nicely browned exterior, a creamy interior, and those brilliant colors intact.
Although my head of orange cauliflower was slightly larger than the purple one, I got about four cups of flowerettes from the orange cauliflower . . .
and about three cups from the purple head.
I tossed it with some garlic flavored olive oil, a little sea salt, and freshly ground pepper and spread it out evenly on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover the cauliflower with another sheet of non-stick aluminum foil and pop it in a 475 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Uncover it, and flip the cauliflower (which should be starting to brown) and put them back in for another 10 minutes. That’s all there is to it!
While my cauliflower was roasting, I put my pasta water on to boil, and assembled my other ingredients. I luckily had a pint of roasted grape tomatoes left over from another recipe – but if you don’t already have them already made, the halved cherry or grape tomatoes could easily be roasting in the oven on another baking sheet at the same time as your cauliflower.
I decided to use Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage as my meat analogue, and Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Orchiette (aka little ears) as my pasta.
Once the pasta was cooked, the whole dish came together pretty quickly, qualifying it as one of my Easy Weeknight Meals . . .
and one of the most colorful!
- 1 head orange cauliflower
- 1 head purple cauliflower
- 2-3 tablespoons garlic flavored extra virgin olive oil (or olive oil with a little organic garlic powder mixed in - don't use fresh minced garlic or it will burn)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided use)
- 1 lb. Dalallo Organic Whole Wheat Orchiette
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ package Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage (2 sausages), crumbled
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil. Fill a large pot with water, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until boiling.
- Cut the leaves and core from the cauliflower heads, and cut off the flowerettes. You should have 6-7 cups of cauliflower, depending on the size of the heads.
- In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the garlic flavored olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on one of the baking sheets and cover with another sheet of non-stick foil (with the non-stick side facing down toward the cauliflower. Put in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
- In the same bowl, toss the halved cherry or grape tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place in the second prepared baking sheet with the tomato halves facing up. Place in the oven.
- When the 10 minute timer goes off, remove the foil from the baking sheet with the cauliflower, and rotate the sheet with the tomatoes. Put both back in the oven and set the timer for 10 more minutes.
- At this point, your pasta water should be at a rolling boil. Add the salt, and stir in the Orchiette. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking, and begin testing it around 9 minutes.
- Put the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and saute the crumbled Field Roast sausage. Saute for 3-4 minutes and set aside.
- When the pasta is al dente, your cauliflower and tomatoes should be ready to come out of the oven. Remove 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
- Put the drained orchiette back in the still hot pasta pot. Add the roasted cauliflower, roasted tomatoes, and about half of the reserved cooking water. Add the sautéed sausage, and taste for seasonings. Add the optional chopped parsley.
- Although you could certainly embellish this with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you're not vegan, why not try it this dish without the "crutch" of added cheese? You might be surprised at how good a vegan pasta dish can be!
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