Cauliflower and olives. Two of the Great Food Polarizers.
Personally, I love both. This pasta is one of Allan's and my favorite sides. For those of you who have never had roasted cauliflower, I beg of you, please try it. It's absolutely delicious, it gets crispy and sweet, completely unrecognizable from its raw (and, fortunately, boiled) state.
I like using Barilla Plus pasta, it's fortified with a little extra protein and fiber so it's not completely devoid of nutrition. The thinner the spaghetti you use, the fluffier it cooks up, giving you more bang for your caloric buck (I generally use the angel hair). I'm also a sucker for a veggie/starch combo side dish. Two for one! Whee!
And olives, oh, sweet olives. If I were a poet, the sonnets I would sing to olives. Green ones, black ones, oil-cured ones, brined ones, salty ones, spicy ones, big ones, little ones, stuffed ones... I digress. Suffice to say, I care very deeply for them. More than they will ever know.
Please note, if you need a can opener to get to them, they are *not* olives. Put the can down and get to the nearest olive bar immediately. If you can't find an olive bar, there are some great jarred varieties as well, just be sure to give them a little rinse before using.
The protein here is a bit of an afterthought. I got some great chicken and mozzarella sausages a while back and froze them in 2-person portions, so they just needed a quick thaw and few minutes on a hot grill. I like using chicken or turkey sausage whenever I can, and there are some great gourmet varieties available to try.
4-6 oz dry pasta
1 small or half a large head of cauliflower, chopped roughly
few glugs of olive oil
pinch of red chili flakes
2 tbsp pine nuts (I just realized I forgot to add these - don't be like me, they're awesome)
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced into rounds
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
a couple of sausages, whatever kind you like
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and your grill on medium-high.
Chop your cauliflower and toss with a glug of olive oil, pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Give them a shuffle with a spatula, then bake another 10 minutes or so, until deeply golden brown and delicious around the edges.
While the cauliflower is baking, cook your pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. This is also a good time to grill your sausages until browned and oozy.
Combine your chili flakes, pine nuts, diced onion and minced garlic in a large non-stick skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and saute for a few minutes over medium heat. When the cauliflower is roasted, add it to the pan along with the green olives and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then stir in the pasta and Parmesan. Toss toss toss, adjust seasonings with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary, and plate.
Serves 2, takes about 40 minutes, with considerable downtime for making cocktails and chatting.