So right now I am reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. It is full of so many lovely thoughts about food and gathering with people we love. It is about the holy act of hospitality. It is about how life does not always hand us what we expect. It is about letting go of control and expectations, both in life and entertaining.
One of her essays was about feasting and fasting, and how she always feels like summer and holiday times are feasting times, and that fall and spring are fasting times. Which makes complete sense. But it got me thinking about my own “feasting and fasting” patterns, because I think we all have them, whether we realize it or not.
Personally, aside from the fact that there are a few more Christmas treats in my life around the holidays, I feel like I eat about the same throughout the year. I don’t particularly go through seasons with my eating patterns and indulgences. In summer there is homemade ice cream, but there are also grilled vegetables and fish. In winter there are Christmas treats, but there are also soups and roasted winter vegetables.
But I still have my patterns, feasting here and fasting there. After a big couple of days of eating, I’m usually ready for something lighter, which I think is the case for a lot of people. Over this past weekend we had burgers and homemade ice cream on Friday, on Saturday we had this pasta; on Sunday we had cinnamon rolls and pasta with a creamy sauce, and on Monday all I wanted was some salmon.
It’s always good to find a pasta dish that is particularly healthy. I’m not always a fan of whole wheat pasta, but it completely works with the cauliflower; it all comes together with a nutty taste. And while it is just pasta and roasted vegetables, it works as a complete meal, particularly for a weekday in which you are trying to lighten up.
A note about the cauliflower to pasta ratio: I like a lot of cauliflower, and therefore one cauliflower head per two people. The original recipe calls for one head of cauliflower and one pound of pasta (feeding four people), but I think the ratios there seems a little skimpy. All this to say, if you want to double the recipe, you can double the cauliflower or still just use one head of cauliflower. Your choice. Also, if you've never had anchovies like this, please try it. I promise promise promise it doesn't taste like anchovies at all; it just adds a nutty complexity to the dish.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 small shallot, peeled and diced
- 2 oil packed anchovies, chopped
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the cauliflower on a baking sheet with a good drizzle or two of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper (personally, I like a good amount of salt on my cauliflower). Spread the cauliflower out evenly and then roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, tossing it halfway through, until pieces are beginning to brown a bit.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and then drain the pasta. Toss with a bit of olive oil and the 1/2 tablespoon of butter to keep the pasta from sticking.
- Place the pot back on the heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with the shallot anchovies. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, until the shallot is tender and the anchovies have broken down.
- Add the breadcrumbs, and continue to cook and stir often until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the pasta, roasted cauliflower, and Parmesan to the pot. Toss everything together to combine. If the pasta seems dry (which I've found is usually the case), add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water at a time, until you reach a consistency that seems good to you.
- Serve warm, with more Parmesan grated over the top.
adapted from Dinner the Playbook
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