Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley, Pasta & Gruyere


Caulifower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley, Pasta & Gruyère


Michael departed for business in southern California this morning.  Madison had a calculus class this evening.  Mallory had an orthodontist appointment at 3:45 & Max’s baseball practice started at 4:45.  The icing on the cake…Open House at the middle school started at 6:30!  Dinner needed to be simple tonight.  I know that I have said this before, but, with a bit of planning ahead, busy evenings do not need to end with pizza from a box {or some other form of takeout/fast food}.  This pasta  {adapted from Deborah Madison’s, Vegetable Literacy} was healthy & satisfying.  I prepped all of the ingredients before slipping on my chauffeur hat at 3:00pm.  When we arrived home {shortly after 7:00} all I had to do was boil water for the pasta, quickly steam the cauliflower & sauté the vegetables & herbs.  We were sitting down to dinner by 7:30!

Caulifower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley, Pasta & Gruyère {adapted from Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison}

  • 1 cauliflower {at least a pound}, broken into small florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for tossing the pasta
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 16 ounces of shaped pasta such as shells or twists {I used orecchiette}
  • 4 cups {or more} of grated aged cheese {I used Gruyère}
  1. Steam the cauliflower florets over boiling water for about 3 minutes {not quite fully cooked}.  Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy, large skillet set over medium heat.  Add the onion & saffron, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften {about 6-8 minutes}.  As the onion and saffron cook you will notice that saffron imparts both it’s color and flavor on the onion.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes & a few pinches of the parsley.  Give it all a stir and then add the cauliflower.  Toss the cauliflower to coat with the seasonings and then add the water, continuing to cook over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender.  Season with salt & toss with half of the remaining parsley.  Keep warm.
  4. While the cauliflower is cooking, cook the pasta.  Drain the pasta and return to the hot pot, tossing with a few tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining parsley.  Add the grated cheese and stir with a spoon until the cheese melts and the pasta mixture is creamy.  Add the cauliflower mixture and stir to combine. Serve in individual bowls.

Ingredients CollageIMG_9888

A one bowl meal ~ no knife required…


This vegetable/pasta dish was WONDERFUL!  So much better than ordinary {even homemade} mac & cheese.  The cauliflower added some texture, the pepper flakes made the dish “lively in the mouth” {as Deborah Madison describes} without being spicy and my addition of the extra cheese made this a winner over standard mac & cheese.  The children cleaned their bowls.  Left-overs will make a fabulous hot lunch tomorrow.

See you tomorrow!


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