Robust in flavor with amazing crunch and texture, this pasta dish is light and invorgating and incredibly satisfying!
I’ve seen several variations of this recipe circulating the internet over the past several years and one I pushed off for a long time. I wasn’t sure if my husband would like it for a couple of reasons. I mean, my fight for Meatless Mondays was a battle I had won over time. Convincing him that walnuts belong in pasta felt like a reach however I thought it was worth a shot. I hope I can convince you too! We make this regularly now and it has easily become a favorite comfort meal for us any time of the year. This dish is light and fresh yet warming and good to eat even when it’s chilly.
Here are some important things to note when making this recipe:
The more cauliflower, the better. The recipe calls for 1 head of cauliflower but sometimes when I went to add more bulk to this dish, I use up to 2 heads, depending on the size of the cauliflower.
I typically make this with penne, but we’ve had this with rotini, linguine, and other fun pasta. While I’ve used gluten-free pasta, any pasta will do.
Use the freshest ingredients possible! I think that’s always important but super important for this meal. In a hurry, we’ve used dried herbs or garlic powder in place of fresh, minced garlic and once we even tried frozen cauliflower. There’s nothing with that however fresh cauliflower, juice from a lemon, and real garlic takes this recipe to new heights of flavor.
1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 6 garlic cloves, divided
Zest from 1 lemon, divided
Juice from 1 lemon
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 to 8 ounces pasta
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
Salt, pepper, and red pepper chili flakes
Lemon zest (reserved)
Cut cauliflower into florets, trimming to bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, half of the lemon zest, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Spread onto a lined baking sheet and roast at 425° for 25 to 30 minutes.
In a small non-stick pan, toast walnuts over medium heat for 4 to 7 minutes.
While cauliflower is in the oven, cook pasta according to the directions on the package and reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Drizzle pasta generously with olive oil and add minced garlic, parsley, lemon zest, walnuts. Add roasted cauliflower. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the remaining pasta water. Gently fold in parmesan and season with salt, pepper and some extra chili flakes to desired taste. Males 2 to 4 servings.