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Whole-Wheat Penne with Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting cauliflower caramelizes it and brings out its sweetness. Try it in this spicy, Sicilian-style recipe tossed with whole-wheat pasta, capers and fresh herbs topped with crisp bread crumbs and nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices country-style whole-grain bread, each about 1/2 inch
      (12 mm) thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 2 heads cauliflower, each about 2 lb. (1 kg)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3/4 lb. (375 g) whole-wheat penne
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs. capers, drained
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C).

Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp and dry, about 30 minutes. Rub one side of each slice with 1 of the garlic cloves. Let cool, then tear the bread into chunks. Put the chunks in a food processor and process to coarse crumbs. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

Cut each cauliflower into quarters. Discard any leaves and the cores and cut into slices 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 to 12 mm) thick. Mince the remaining garlic clove. Put the cauliflower in a large baking pan, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the minced garlic and the 1/2 tsp. salt and toss gently to coat evenly. Roast, turning the slices over after 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned on the edges and tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cauliflower, lemon juice, parsley, capers, red pepper flakes and reserved cooking water and toss to combine. Stir in the bread crumbs and cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Good for You, by Dana Jacobi (Weldon Owen, 2013).