I've never had anything against cauliflower, but notice that for some reason, it's always last man standing on veggie trays at parties and it gets very little media attention. Broccoli has Vitamin C, broccoli may prevent breast cancer, broccoli is packed with fiber. As far cruciferous vegetables go, broccoli is clearly the king.
Something compelled me to buy a fresh head of cauliflower from the produce market this weekend and every night, when I've gone to make dinner it's stared back at me from the crisper drawer, mocking me because I truly had no idea what to do with it. Sure, it seemed nice in theory, but when it came down to chopping the tough, white florets into edible pieces and actually cooking with them, it seemed easier to reach for the turkey and slap a sandwich together.
Luckily, I don't like to waste food, so I eventually folded the thick, crunchy buds into a hearty, healthy bowl of whole wheat pasta. The measurements below make enough for one large appetite or two small servings. For me, it was perfect for dinner one night and lunch the next day.
Whole Wheat Penne with Spicy Cauliflower
2 ounces whole wheat penne pasta (4 oz if serving two people)
1/2 head cauliflower (about two cups of florets)*
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 fresh lemon (juice only)
1/4 cup chopped teaspoons walnuts
2 oz. cubed mozzarella cheese
1. Boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions.
2. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet and sautee cauliflower until lightly browned and tender, about 5-7 minutes over high heat. Add garlic and chopped onion, cook about five more minutes.
3. Add a splash of white wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper, stirring continuously. Once cauliflower is tender, add crushed red pepper, the rest of the white wine vinegar, and the fresh lemon juice. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
4. Once cauliflower mixture is combined, add pasta and toss. Serve with cubed mozzarella cheese (I added parmesan to mine, because I add parmesan to just about everything pasta-related).
*Note: When cutting, pull the bottom "stem" and outer leaves off and cut from the bottom. It's easier than trying to saw the whole thing apart.