Have you ever been certain that you had some pantry staple and discover when you are pulling all the ingredients together before cooking that one is missing? Oops. The recipe I was following called for saffron, something we usually have on hand. I did not take into account the fact that my husband had been using it in focaccia however so the cupboard was bare. I looked for turmeric and that was missing as well. As I contemplated my spice options I noticed a spice blend, guessed at an amount and gave it a go. The results were well received. Guests noted a pleasant but not overpowering bit of heat. Lovely.
Cauliflower and Shells
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 head cauliflower, florets and core cut into small, even-sized, pieces
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend (or see note)
- 16 oz. pasta shells
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
- In another pot, fitted with a steamer basket, steam the cauliflower for about 3 minutes. Taste – it should be toothsome with a bit of crunch left. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and set aside. Drain pot, wipe clean and return it to the stove.
- Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion with a large pinch of salt. Stir in the oil and cook until the onion softens, 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, pepper flakes, spice blend and about 1 tablespoon of parsley. Stir to incorporate and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cauliflower, another large pinch of salt and combine. Add 1 cup water and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste the cauliflower; if it is done to your liking then remove from the heat and keep warm.
- While the cauliflower is cooking you can cook your pasta in well salted water. Drain, return it to the large pot and mix in the remaining parsley.
- When both pasta and cauliflower are cooked combine, mix and taste for seasoning. Adjust to your taste and serve.
If I didn’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend I’d cry. Then I’d mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Use 2 teaspoons of that and save the rest. Finally I’d make a trip to Penzey’s to get more of the spice blend; it is that good.
This recipe is based upon Cauliflower with Saffron and Pasta from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison as shared by The Splendid Table.