Although the last few weekends in Greenport have felt more like the throes of summer than the beginnings of fall, autumn looms in and sundown comes earlier everyday. Along with the cooler weather, a whole new crop of vegetables is starting to grace the farm stands of the North Fork–among them, one of my favorites, the cauliflower. When in season, the bright orange, purple, and white florets of the cauliflower are both beautiful and delicious, and their substance and versatility make them the perfect star of a meatless meal for a chilly evening.
The harvest inspires thoughts of comforting chilies and stews, warm casseroles and pot pies, not to mention the holiday feasts coming up in just a couple months–basically, a lot of heavy, hearty, meaty meals. So to mix things up, this autumn on seasonedfork we’ll be featuring a series of satisfying Meatless Monday Fall recipes, lightened up by featuring seasonal produce as the main focus, as we try to inspire people to go veggie for at least a day out of the week.
This pasta recipe combines the sweet, nutty flavor of roasted cauliflower, the sharp, salty tang of the Parmesan cheese, and the satiating crunch of the pistachio nuts to create a perfect early fall meal–not too heavy, but filling and delicious. Plus, it can easily be made vegan by leaving out the Parmesan cheese and using seasoned bread crumbs in its place. Team this up with a simple salad of local mixed greens, and enjoy your (perhaps first) Meatless Monday meal!
1 head of cauliflower, washed, cored, and cut into small florets
12 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, (any other hard, sharp cheese would work fine too)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp. pistachios
Red Pepper flakes to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. On a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, combine your cauliflower, garlic, and onion, then drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on top and toss together. Season to taste with your sea salt and cracked black pepper, and then, making sure the veggies are spread evenly over the baking sheet, put in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender and just lightly browned.
While the veggies are roasting, prepare the other components of the meal. Put the pistachios in a non-stick pan over medium heat, cooking until just toasted–be sure to watch carefully, as they burn quickly! Put the pasta on to boil in salted water and cook until al dente, then drain and return to the pot, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the roasted veggies, Parmesan cheese, and parsley, and while tossing together, add just enough of the pasta water to form a thin sauce over the dish. Garnish with the toasted pistachios and a bit more Parmesan, and serve.
Pair with a glass of Paumanok Vineyard’s 2012 Festival Red–with a light body and fresh ripe cherry, spice, and plum flavors, it’s a great accompaniment for the roasted nuttiness of the cauliflower.
Shannon Voelkel, Contributing Editor