April 23, 2012

lemony pasta with roasted cauliflower, toasted walnuts & sun dried tomatoes

It's been almost a month since i posted my whiny dieting story. I've certainly whined about other things, mostly tied to The Sickness That Would Not Quit. I fell victim to seasonal allergies meets sinus infection meets bronchitis, and spent the better part of a month very sick.  I felt so sorry for myself that I enabled myself to eat All Of The Things.  But today is a new day, and I'm climbing back on the diet wagon.  I went to a morning boot camp class, ate a healthy breakfast, and am munching on a salad while I type this. This morning was the first time since The Sickness that I felt like myself. It's a good day for fresh starts.

But - diet or no - I'm not giving up pasta. I love it and I'm going to eat it.  Thankfully, I remembered a recent bookmarked healthy pasta recipe that caught my eye.  It's delicious and it's going to make more than one appearance on my dinner table. 

The original recipe from The Daily Meal sounded fantastic, but I made a few tweaks based on ingredients I had on hand, things that sounded good to me, and a concentrated effort to cut out some of the fat.  I roasted the cauliflower and toasted the walnuts because I love the flavor that develops in both, and that's the recommendation I'd make regardless which recipe you follow. 

What I love about this recipe is that it can be a template for so many different veggie combinations.  I think I'd like to try it with fresh tomatoes and yellow squash once they're in (abundant) season.

Lemony pasta with roasted cauliflower, toasted walnuts & sun dried tomatoes
makes eight side dish or four main course servings

12 oz pasta, cooked al dente (I used farfalle)
1 medium head of cauliflower, florets chopped into bite size pieces*

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 tbs olive oil, divided
8 oz sun dried tomatoes, chopped
8 oz walnuts, toasted
juice and zest of one lemon

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
12 oz chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish**

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine cauliflower florets, 3 tbs olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat evenly.  Spread onto a baking sheet & roast until the cauliflower is cooked through and edges start to crisp.  Remove and cool slightly.

In a large pan, heat 1 tbs olive oil, onion and garlic over medium, stirring until onions become translucent.  Add the sun dried tomatoes, walnuts, lemon juice, zest, and thyme, stirring until flavors combine.  Add the chicken stock and cauliflower.  Bring to a simmer then remove from heat.  In a large pot, toss the pasta with the veggie mixture until combined.  Add salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve immediately, topping with freshly grated parmesan. 

*I didn't use the stalks.  Yes, I know I'm a bad girl for not purposing the entire vegetable, but the stalks are gross.

**When I made this, I forgot to add the cheese and didn't even realize it until the next day.  Go ahead and let that sink in.  I forgot the CHEESE and didn't notice.  Couple of good things happening here.  One, the dish is even healthier without it and tasted great.  Two, if you make this using veggie stock, I believe we've got a vegan recipe on our hands.  Total accident, but I know Lesley will be proud.


  1. Interesting post/recipe. I've always loved cauliflower raw, yet I keep seeing it turn up cooked in more and more recipes which makes me want to try them all!

    The only thing with this recipe is the fact that I hate sundried tomatoes - seriously, I've tried but they overpower a dish to me. Do you (or any commenters) have substitution suggestions?

  2. I *am* proud! Assuming the pasta was vegan. It probably had eggs, though. But that's okay; you don't have to get too ambitious right out of the gate. Ha!

    (shhh...I eat egg noodles myself).

  3. sounds delicious! i, like beth, am not a huge fan of sun dried tomatoes, so i'd probably sub roasted red peppers. otherwise, sounds fantastic to me!