Monday, April 5, 2010

Fusilli with Cauliflower, Olives, and Herbs

Well folks, we did it. We moved into our new place, and we’re slowly settling into it. Thank you for your patience over the past week while we unpacked the kitchen and waited (and waited and waited) for our internet to be turned on. I’m looking forward to many new exciting recipes and posts in the coming weeks… as soon as I find where I stashed my camera.

In the meantime, here is a recipe I made awhile back. I’ve been meaning to tell you about it for quite awhile, but new recipes kept jumping the line. I feel a little weird telling you about it right now, seeing as how it is a pasta recipe, and I’m currently observing Passover. However, I’m pretty sure there’s no prohibition against talking about pasta, and besides, if you’re like me, a big bowl of pasta is a great way to end eight days of matzah.

This pasta recipe was a departure from all of my trusty red sauce pasta dishes and made a perfect weeknight dinner. I came across the recipe while looking for a way to use up a cauliflower that had been hanging out in the back of the fridge for several days. I was a little skeptical about how well the cauliflower would blend with the pasta, but it was great, adding lots of texture and mellow flavor. The salty olives, spicy red pepper flakes, and bright herbs punched up the flavor even more.

Ricotta salata is the finishing touch for the dish. This was my first experience using the cheese, and I must admit, I’ve been looking for excuses to buy it ever since. Ricotta salata is a pressed, drier, more crumbly version of ricotta cheese. It has a very fresh, milky, slightly salty flavor. You can find it at the cheese counter or the imported cheese section of your supermarket. While you can certainly use other cheeses, ricotta salata is worth seeking out.

Fusilli with Cauliflower, Olives, and Herbs
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
2 T. tarragon, finely chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 cup Spanish green olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. fusilli (or other sturdy pasta)
1/4 – 1/2 cup ricotta salata, or other cheese, coarsely grated (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and salt, to taste. Boil until just tender. (You don’t want the cauliflower to overcook, or it will lose its texture and be mushy.)

Scoop the cauliflower out of the water and place it in a large bowl. Add the scallions, herbs, red pepper flakes, olives, and olive oil. Cover the bowl to keep warm, and set it aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling cauliflower water, and cook according to the package directions.

Drain the pasta and add it to the cauliflower mixture. Toss well to combine.

Add the cheese, and toss again.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6.


  1. YUM!!! I made this last night with feta and used kalamata greek olives instead.... SO GOOD. I also sauteed some yellow onions and threw 'em in there. delicious. and vegetarian! and low point!

  2. Heather - Your substitutions sound delicious. I'm glad you enjoyed it!



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