This delicious, homey dish from Sara and Hugh Forte’s The Sprouted Kitchen is a healthy spin on a classic Sicilian meal that doesn’t compromise on taste. It turns out that tender roasted cauliflower, lemon, fresh basil, and salty Pecorino is the perfect accompaniment to whole grain pasta. A common ingredient in other variations of this recipe is breadcrumbs, but Sara uses toasted hazelnuts in her version, which impart amazing texture and flavor. The slightest hint of ground nutmeg makes this taste extra special; it adds a warm backdrop to the entire dish to make this seriously satisfying (but still healthy!) comfort food.
Roasted Cauliflower Capellini
from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara and Hugh Forte (Ten Speed Press, 2012)
1 head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 pound whole grain or brown rice capellini or spaghetti
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Handful of fresh basil leaves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
Shaved Pecorino, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the capellini. Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into 1-inch florets, discarding the thick middle stem. Spread the florets on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, making sure each piece is coated. Sprinkle with the lemon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the nutmeg and toss again. Roast, gently stirring about halfway through the cooking time, until there are lots of brown caramelized spots, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cook the capellini according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the butter and swirl it around the pan until it starts to bubble and just begins to smell toasty, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the water. To the pan with the browned butter, add the capellini, a splash of the pasta water, the balsamic vinegar, basil, half of both the cauliflower and the hazelnuts, and a pinch or two of salt and toss everything to combine. Divide the capellini among four bowls and top each serving with a portion of the remaining cauliflower and hazelnuts and a few grinds of pepper. Garnish with some shaved Pecorino and serve immediately.