John thought this was going to be gross, but lo! It was not gross; it was good.
What's better than eating in-season veg like cauliflower? Cauliflower in pasta is great & underrated, & everyone should try it. Maybe sometime soon I'll get around to the butternut or kabocha squash pasta, or even to the turnip and rutabaga, although I don't know if those go with pasta per se. They can get in a big gratin, then. It's all good. My point is: seasonal vegetables!
I actually think that this pasta and veg mix would work really well in a gratin, with a little cream sauce and a bunch of breadcrumbs scattered over the top. Maybe that can happen sometime in the relatively near future.
Overall, this whole business fell very much in the Mediterranean area. I was particularly happy to be using some of my oven-dried tomatoes. I've never been that much into the tougher store-bought sun-dried tomatoes, but every time I use these I like them more and more. Maybe next year I should make multiple jars.
Cauliflower & olive pasta
marinated olives (black nicoise or kalamata for preference)
oven-roasted or sun-dried tomato
deglazing liquid of your choice
red pepper flake, oregano, marjoram, basil, salt, pepper
penne or other pasta of your choice
fresh parsley or basil if you have any lying around
First, put on a pot of water for the pasta; cook it at an appropriate point in the proceedings.
In a separate sauté pan, warm up a slug of olive oil. When it's adequately warm, throw in a bunch of chopped onion and garlic. Season with red pepper flake (or hey, maybe you have an actual hot pepper you want to chop up and use!), oregano, basil, and marjoram, and let soften while you chop up a handful of olives and a tomato. Add these to the pan as you finish chopping.
If you have any sun-dried or oven-roasted tomatoes, get them out, drain off their excess oil and chop as needed, and add them to the pan. If you don't have any, that's ok too. You can always add a couple more olives or some capers for extra pungency.
Add some salt and pepper, stir everything together, and let cook for about five minutes. If things start to look dry, you can add a little water, veg broth, dry white wine, or some dry vermouth to deglaze. Whatever you have lying around will work fine.
Now is the time to butcher your cauliflower. I used about 2/3 of a cauliflower for two people; if you're serving any more people, just use an entire head. Trim off any leaves or hard woody bits, and then cut or break your cauliflower into smallish florets.
Add your cauliflower to the pan. Stir everything up, getting as much cauliflower in contact with the bottom of the pan as possible. (This will encourage your cauliflower to brown, which will make it particularly tasteable.) Let it all cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is cooked through. Again, deglaze if and when you need to.
When the cauliflower is cooked through, correct your seasonings, mix the vegetables with your cooked, drained pasta, and serve. If you have any Mediterranean herbs around, throw a handful of them on top of your bowl. I think a little squirt of lemon or some finely sliced lemon zest would work really well; grating cheese or feta would be good too. My point is: doctor your pasta however you like.
Now eat it! Yay, winter vegetables!