After a cold week, which started with a blanketing of snow, this is the pasta that you need for the weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that this is not the prettiest bowl of pasta that will grace your dinner table, but I can think of so many foods that taste delicious without being beauty queens. And this is one of them, for sure.
After a relatively warm start to the winter, this has been a cold week of January. Pretty typical, I guess, but since we haven’t experienced this type of weather for awhile, it took me a bit by surprise. I’ve been able to go on my long morning walks by bundling-up with layers and walking really fast (it’s a great cardio workout!), but once I get back home and into my warm house, it’s tough to get motivated to go outside again for any reason. Luckily, I have plenty to do inside to keep me occupied.
On Monday morning, I made the mistake (you could say) of watching an episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. I’d read Marie’s monumental book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up years ago, but never really put her organizing system into practice in my home. So after watching just one episode, guess what I wanted to do? I wanted to purge my house of everything unnecessary, a crazy-enormous task to attempt alone. Luckily, I stopped myself before I got started; I limited my cleaning frenzy to my own closet and took baby-steps all week to get rid of the clutter. A big bag of clothes will be donated to a local resale shop later today, and there will be plenty more trips to the shop in the future, I’m sure.
All of the cleaning and thinking about cleaning made me hungry. Touching all of my soft fuzzy sweaters as I refolded them and separated them into “keep” and “donate” piles had me contemplating recipes and how I could translate the feeling of these cozy sweaters into a meal. I made my way downstairs to the kitchen to scope-out the pantry situation, all the while telling myself that cleaning the pantry and organizing my spice drawer was not on the day’s agenda. There was a bag of pasta - radiatori - that was just begging to be folded into a thick and creamy sauce. I turned on a podcast and set out to create a dinner recipe.
This Creamy Cauliflower Pasta may look complex and cumbersome with all of the steps, but it’s not, I promise. Nearly every part can be made simultaneously; if you’re well-organized in the kitchen (no Marie Kondo skills required), this recipe is a breeze. If you’re nervous or anxious in the kitchen (I’ve heard these conditions are possible), the sauce can be made ahead of time and the cauliflower can be made in-advance, too. Use any shape of short-cut pasta, just make sure it’s good pasta! And if pasta isn’t your thing, toss the sauce with rice or quinoa, it’s equally as delicious. The secret to this dish are the chopped capers, they provide the best salty bites that help to tame the richness of the cashew sauce. Don’t skip the capers!
I hear that there’s nasty winter weather headed my way this weekend, luckily there are plenty more episodes of Marie Kondo’s inspiration on Netflix! What’s your favorite way to spend time indoors when the weather outside is frightful? Do you relax or do you tackle a list of tasks? Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have plenty of nourishing eats alongside.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Creamy Cauliflower Pasta
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 pound dried pasta (short-cut varieties are best, such as rigatoni, rotini, orecchiette)
1 C raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
1/2 C room temperature water
4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
3 T capers, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle 3 T extra-virgin olive oil over the cauliflower florets. Roast, stirring occasionally until well-browned and crisp on the edges, 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt heavily with kosher salt. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al-dente, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Before draining, remove one cup of the cooking water and reserve; the pasta water may be used to thin the sauce after tossing the pasta and other components together. Drain the pasta and return to the cooking pot to keep warm.
While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Drain the cashews, then add them to the container of a high-speed blender. Pour the water, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil into the container on top of the cashews. Add the chopped garlic and purée the ingredients into a smooth mixture. Stop the blender to scrape-down the sides of the container, as needed. Taste and season with sea-salt and freshly-ground black pepper to desired flavor.
Chop the capers and set aside.
Mix all of the parts together: add the roasted cauliflower to the pasta and toss gently. Pour 1/2 of the cashew sauce over the pasta and mix. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Taste and adjust seasonings - add more cashew sauce, if needed, or additional salt and pepper. Add the chopped capers to the top, stir one last time, and serve immediately.
recipe yields 6-8 generous portions
use extra cashew sauce as a dip for vegetables or as a salad dressing
substitute rice or quinoa for pasta, if desired
leftovers keep well, in a covered container, for 2-3 days; reheat gently before serving