The first time I made a version of this pan-roasted cauliflower recipe, it was on live TV.
Well, live internet TV at least, which these days counts as the real thing.
Food52 invited me to be one of their three esteemed guest chefs in a live cook-off segment. We were all given the same recipe to execute—the winner of their best dinner party side contest, Cavolfiore Palma a la Leah—but the twist was, we each had to use a different type of range to cook it.
I was given the gas stove, thank my lucky stars. But that didn’t keep me from becoming a pillar of unhealthy anxiety leading up to the shoot. If there was anything my 20’s was most marked by, it was imposter syndrome. And no more so, than in the arena of competitive chef-ing. (Thank you, reality television.)
That day, though, it was not just the age difference between me and my fellow chefs, nor their vastly superior professional experience—or even the fact that I was a genuine fan girl of both of their work. It was the fact that, win or lose, the recipe was not gluten-free and I might awkwardly have to pretend to eat it on live internet TV.
Luckily, as with most highly produced bits of content, the contest itself was all pre-orchestrated and only required me cook the dish, not share in its culinary delights. But as if making up for lost time, in the 5 years since my first introduction to this pan roasted cauliflower, it’s become a regular in my repertoire, only with one key alteration.
And no, not just the fact that I now serve it on a bed of pasta.
To make the breadcrumbs gluten-free (and vegan!), I use my favorite Little Northern Bakehouse loaf: Millet & Chia. Not only are they whole grain, free of GMO’s, peanuts and tree nuts, but they are also egg-free. This is a very hard combo to come by, friends. And I was shocked at how light in texture their loaves are—they really have the feel of regular bread.
I’ve found that this recipe works best when you toast the bread immediately from the freezer, then chop by hand into coarse, buttery croutons. In this case, I use the base flavors from the original pan roasted cauliflower recipe and toss the crumbs together with rosemary and olive oil. You could easily rub some garlic on the toasts too before cutting it up.
It’s the perfect crunch on top of this gluten-free pasta dish, and one I’m happy not to have to do without, in front of the camera or off.
If pine nuts are too pricey or rich for your blood, you can sub toasted walnuts finely chopped. The golden raisins are also optional, but I think their sweetness adds a little something extra to this pasta. Finally, if you’re not rocking the plant-based life, feel free to cover this cauli extravaganza with a little nutty pecorino snow.
With health and hedonism,
Pan Roasted Cauliflower Pasta Recipe with Golden Raisins and Rosemary Croutons
- Remove the cauliflower florets from their core and cut into tiny pieces. (You can also chop up the stems if you want!) You should have about 6 cups of chopped cauliflower.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower in an even layer. Pan-fry until the cauliflower is tender and starts to brown a bit, stirring as necessary, about 15 minutes. You can also add a bit more olive oil if the pan starts to get too dry or the cauliflower is starting to stick. Stir in the salt, 2 teaspoons rosemary, and sumac. Cook for a few minutes more, until the cauliflower is tender. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and immediately transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss with a splash of olive oil.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from the heat and toss in half of the chopped parsley.
- Toast the bread until quite brown and crusty. Finely chop into rustic breadcrumbs or tiny croutons – whatever you choose to call them! Add them to a small mixing bowl and toss with a small drizzle of olive oil and the remaining rosemary.
- Toss the pasta with half the toasted pine nut mixture, and the golden raisins, if using.
- When ready to serve, divide the pasta between bowls and garnish with the remaining pine nut mixture, rosemary croutons and pecorino, if using.