Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients Availability: Local Ingredients except sage.
- Taste Palate: Slightly bland with delicate flavours of cauliflowers, nuts and sage. Perfect food for a hot summer afternoon. Have it with some chilled fruity cocktails or white wine.
- Ambience: Sit by a large window, let the sun rays lighten up the room, some conversations, some music and food
- Music: Jazz it up with some Muddy Waters and Contemporary Blues even while cooking. Wish I had a record player. Some albums that you could listen to
200 gm Sea Shell Pasta ( I used a mix of sea shell pasta and macaroni as I wanted to finish the macaroni )
4 Garlic cloves (big), 2 crushed and 2 chopped finely ( I loouvee garlic)
200gms Cauliflower, broken into florets ( you can blanch the florets in boiling water for a couple of minutes. It helps in two things, getting rid of worms and making them a little tender which helps in faster cooking)
2 Onions, 1 sliced and 1 chopped finely
7-8 Almonds, soaked for 1 hour in water and chopped finely
2 Green chillies
9-10 Sage Leaves
10 Spinach Leaves, cut into inches
120 ml of fresh cream ( Its one day. You want get fat in a day)
3-4 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt, Chilly Flakes according to taste
Method: To prepare pan roasted cauliflower
I put my pan on medium heat and leave it for a couple of minutes. Doing this does 3 things: It takes moisture out of the pan, helps in even cooking and gets the aromas out of all the aromatics or spices that you use in cooking. Once the pan is reasonably hot, I add 2 tbsp of olive oil, the chilies, crushed garlic and the sliced onions. I saute them for two minutes on a high flame till the onions turn pink. I want to keep them slightly pink as they will cook more when I add the cauliflower. Then I add the blanched the cauliflower, the almonds, the sage leaves and some salt to taste. Then I put a lid on the pan and turned the flame to low for 3-4 minutes.
This was one vegetable I could never get right. My mom makes a simple fried cauliflower in mustard oil at home which always turn out to be perfectly cooked and crispy. I always end up either in mashing it up because of over cooking or just not getting it cooked enough. Cooking cauliflower was my biggest nightmare but now I think, I have got the timing and technique right.
So, while my cauliflower is cooking (perfectly), I boil a big bowl of water for the pasta. The ratio of water to pasta is 1.5 to 2 cups of water for 1 cup of pasta. Well, that’s how we make maggie, dont we 😉 . And just like your maggie, you need to put the seasoning in the boiling water so that the pasta is not bland and tasteless. I add a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of oil, some rosemary leaves to the boiling water and then add the pasta and boil it for about 8-10 minutes in a low flame. I keep stirring the pasta in every two minutes. Before you take it off the gas, just pop one in your mouth to see if its cooked to your liking.
Now while the pasta is cooking, I get back to my cauliflower. I take the lid off to and hope that the cauliflower has turned tender. The best way to check is to quickly and stealthily eat a floret. My mother hates it when I do that but you know I am no pro and I love tasting my food as I cook it. This is my kitchen, you see. Now if you are trying this and you see that the cauliflower is still not tender, just put the lid back on, after stirring it, for a couple of minutes more. All I want now, is to give my cauliflower that nice roasty golden brown colour. So I crank the flame up to high, and dry out all the water from my vegetable. Oh did you forget to stir your pasta in the meanwhile. Do it now. Also, continue stirring till the cauliflower. NO DONT BURN it. DONT BREAK IT. Be gentle with it. Love your cauliflower. Give it enough colour to so that it gives a nice nutty taste in your mouth. Yes. Keep eating. And now you have my permission to take it off the heat. (Quoting Batman while cooking can be fun)
Roasting in the oven would be easier. However, as I still have to buy an oven, I havent tried it yet. Theoritically, put all the ingredients in baking tray roast for 30-40 mins at 200 degrees centigrade.
Method: To make the Cream Sauce
In a pan on medium flame, I add half a table spoon of olive oil, then I add the finely chopped garlic and onions. Saute them till the onion turns pink. Dont let it brown. Just sweat it out. Thats all. I take the pan off the heat, add the cream and mix it well. I also season it with some more salt.
You can do this with a white sauce too. Will put up a separate post for pasta sauces.
Finishing Touches :
In a pan I drizzle some olive oil and add the spinach. I let it sweat a bit in the oil and then add all the pasta, some salt and chilly flakes. Since I havent spiced up this dish, one can be generous with the chillies.
I put the pasta on a plate and topped it up with the roasted cauliflower, drizzled some olive oil. I would have squeezed half a lemon too but I ran out of lemons. Add a generous amount of cream sauce on top. Garnish with your favourite seasonings. I used chilly flakes. Didnt want to complicate the delicate flavours.
Food Marriage Tips
1) Cream sauce always tastes good with something crunchy/nutty. The almonds and cauliflower helps this recipe with exactly that. I find it very hectic to eat any white/sauce without that crunch or something fun. Plain Jane white/cream sauce is not my thing.
2) The wonderful blend of sage and cauliflower turned out to be really interesting and elevated the flavour of the vegetable. We Indians are used to adding a lot of masala to the cauliflower and over cook it. Almost make it pulpy. The lazy ones dont cook it enough. Ask my office canteen chefs. YUCK. Cauliflower by itself has a lot of flavour. Play with ingredients to enhance its flavours.
3) Never boil your pasta without salt and oil. Else your pasta will be bland and will stick to one another. I always add some herbs while boiling my pasta. It gives the pasta another dimension of flavour.