Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Pasta - march 4, 2011

Last weekend the Chronicle published a tasty sounding recipe for two ubiquitous winter vegetables: cauliflower and brussels sprouts. For some reason I rarely see either in our CSA box, but we had finished off all our produce from last week, so the kids and I ventured out to our local farmers' market this sunday.

I guess we were a little late to the party, because only one stall was still selling sprouts, and they were the biggest I've ever seen. The farm didn't advertise chemical free farming methods or organic certification, which means they probably don't do either. That could explain the gigantic mini-cabbages, or maybe just a late harvest. Either way, the often ample size of chemically fertilized produce is interesting to me. In this time of obese children and rampant diabetes, is bigger still assumed to be better?

We bought a bag nonetheless, and a nice plump head of cauliflower to go with, only to find another cauliflower making its celebrated appearance in our CSA box later in the week. But really that's OK, because roasted cauliflower is truly delicious, as long as I remember to add salt. Plus, roasting shrinks the veggies, so when I'm looking to get rid of something we'd really rather not eat, roasting is the best way.  

Now that our vegetables are roasted, I see that shrinkage has caused the opposite problem, and I should have used both heads of cauliflower for this dinner. Between myself, my husband and my five year old daughter, half of them have been eaten, and the pasta isn't even done yet.

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Pasta: (adapted from the SF Chronicle)

8-10 oz small pasta (orecchiette, penne, fusili or farfalle)

1 large head cauliflower (or two, if your family really likes it)

1 bag brussels sprouts (about 1 lb)

olive oil

zest of one lemon

1 T (or so) fresh lemon juice

scant 1/4 cup pine nuts

4 T chopped parsley

grated parmesan 



Heat the oven to 475˚ and put a large pot of water on to boil. Line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper (can anyone tell me if this stuff is compostable?). Cut the brussels sprouts in half, quarters if the they are large, and cut out the core. Put them in a large bowl, add about 2 T olive oil and 1/4 t salt, toss to coat and lay them in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Next cut the florets off the cauliflower, then slice them in half so that there is a flat side for them to lay on - this is a roasting trick I learned from Susie Middleton's Fast, Fresh and Green. Like the sprouts, toss them with 1-2 T olive oil, salt and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Put both cookie sheets (or one, if that is all you used) into the oven, and set a timer for 15 minutes. At heat this high, perfectly roasted can turn to charcoal quickly, so keep an eye on them. When they are crispy, browned in some places and creamy in the middle they are done. You can roast the veggies the day before, and reheat them before serving dinner.

Now cook the pasta. Stir the lemon zest into 3 T olive oil. Put the pinenuts in a small skillet over medium low heat, stir and wait for them to brown a little bit, then turn off the heat and remove the nuts from the hot pan. When the pasta is done, drain it, then return it to the empty pot with the roasted vegetables, pinenuts,  lemon olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Mix it up, then divide it into bowls and serve with grated parmesan and fresh ground pepper on top.


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As far as the compostability of parchment paper, I guess it depends on the method used to make it. There are a few ways its made, but the stuff used for baking is usually coated.

To make matters more confusing, there are a couple of kinds of coated baking parchment papers. One is coated with silicone (which is inert and safe); this kind can be composted in the City's green bins, but not in home composters (because we wouldn't chop it up small enough). Another kind is made with some scary chemical coating containing chromium salts; don't compost this stuff (and don't feed me something baked on it, either) - heavy metals!

The silicone variety is supposedly more expensive because silicone costs more than the chromium-based stuff.


I pretty much could have munched on those roasted veggies all night long. OMG so good...


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