Roasted cauliflower gets a little crispy, tastes a little nutty, and goes perfectly with a simple sauce made from browned butter, shallots, sage, and Parmesan cheese. Mixed with whole wheat spaghetti to complement the nutty flavors in the browned butter and cauliflower, I've topped the pasta with toasted panko breadcrumbs mixed with parsley and lemon zest to brighten everything up.
Though optional, using purple cauliflower is a fun way to bring color into this dish.
This pasta dish is easy, hearty, and very delicious, please enjoy!
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Step 1: Gather Ingredients
For the topping:
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
For the roasted cauliflower:
2 medium-sized heads purple cauliflower, cut into medium florets
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Penzey's Mural of Flavor seasoning--a wonderful all-purpose seasoning blend, lemon pepper seasoning, or kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper
For the sauce:
2 tsp. fresh sage (about 12 medium-sized leaves), finely chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 medium shallot, minced
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving, I used 2/3 cup total), finely shredded
For the pasta:
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
Step 2: Prepare Cauliflower and Roast
Preheat oven to 450 F. (I used Convection Roast 425 F.)
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil, preferably nonstick.
If you're not experienced cutting cauliflower into florets it can seem a little awkward. I use a paring knife, set the cauliflower core side up, and first trim off all the leaves and discard. Then use the paring knife to cut large florets off the core, and cut those florets into the size you need. Put the cauliflower in a strainer and rinse it off. (I use my own veggie wash that is a 1:3 white vinegar-to-water solution I keep in a spray bottle.)
I prepped my cauliflower earlier in the day so it was dry, if yours is still wet, spread it out on some paper towels and blot it dry before seasoning.
Put cauliflower in large bowl and add 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, and your 1 tsp. seasoning of choice. Toss so the florets are well coated, split the cauliflower evenly between the two baking sheets and roast until tender and well-browned, about 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through roasting, stirring the cauliflower at that time. Remove from oven onto cooling racks.
Step 3: Make Topping and Prepare Sauce Ingredients
For the topping:
Melt 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add panko and pinch of salt and toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat, add the lemon zest and parsley and stir to combine. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
If you haven't already, grate the cheese, mince the shallot and sage.
Step 4: Cook Pasta
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook whole wheat spaghetti until al dente, about 11 minutes. (Follow package instructions.)
This is very important--before draining, reserve 2/3 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain pasta.
Step 5: Make Sauce, Add Cauliflower, Pasta, Breadcrumbs and Enjoy!
While the pasta cooks (I usually start the sauce after the pasta has cooked a few minutes), melt 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter over medium heat in a large pot. Stir in shallot and cook about a minute, stir in sage and continue to cook until butter is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Browned butter can burn quickly, so keep an eye on it and be ready with the reserved pasta water to stop cooking the butter. (I didn't even risk taking a picture of the browned butter I was afraid it would burn.)
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and Parmesan and mix well. Add the cauliflower and pasta, toss to combine, and if the pasta seems dry, add in the rest of the reserved water.
To serve, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and extra Parmesan cheese. Mangia and enjoy!