Here's what I love about trying new recipes; you can always continue to improve upon or modify them to your specific taste. That's how this dish came to be. This original recipe came in one of my Plated deliveries. If you're not familiar with Plated, read my review here.
While tasty, there were a handful of things that we weren't too crazy about so, we made some tweaks! We changed up the pasta, added different spices, and threw in some spinach instead of arugula. I find a LITTLE arugula goes a LONG way. Again - this is why cooking and making a dish your own is so much fun! Hopefully you'll give this version a try and perhaps make your own changes or enjoy it as is. Trust me, this one's a keeper! Additionally, I love that this pasta is on the lighter side and not coated in any heavy sauces.
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 10 oz Tagliolini pasta (I used the Cipriani brand, found at most gourmet food shops or click on the link to purchase directly from Cipriani)
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 1/4 bunch parsley
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile pepper
- 1 cup of baby spinach mix
- 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse and break cauliflower into 1-inch florets and discard the stems. Rinse and finely chop parsley leaves and discard the stems. Zest lemon, then halve. Chop up baby spinach mix and set aside.
Heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size pan on medium heat. Add hazelnuts and cook until golden brown (now you may be thinking, "But they're already golden brown?" Yes but the lighter side, under the skin will brown. See pic below). After 5 minutes or so, remove the hazelnuts with a slotted spoon and drain on a small plate, lined with a paper towel. Empty oil from pan in to a small bowl and set aside. This process will give your olive oil a nice hazelnut flavor! Wipe pan clean and set aside.
In a medium size bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut oil, sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne and ancho chile pepper. On a baking sheet, arrange the cauliflower in a single layer and roast until browned and caramelized on both sides, about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, adding a little salt to the water. Finely chop the hazelnuts and mix with the chopped parsley, lemon zest and remaining hazelnut oil. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the grated pecorino, stirring to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Tastes pretty good eh? We're not done yet...
Once your pasta water is boiling, add your tagliolini, cooking until al dente, 8-10 minutes. You can cook longer depending on how soft you like your pasta. While pasta is cooking, add your pesto back to your medium size pan and warm through, over medium-low heat.
When your pasta is done, drain (saving some of your pasta water), and add to your pan of pesto, tossing to coat. Add cauliflower, baby spinach mix and a little of your remaining pasta water and toss until the greens have wilted, about 1-2 minutes - plate and serve!