Baked Ziti with Cauliflower
I think cauliflower falls under that category of (somewhat) shunned vegetables in the produce section. You know the ones like eggplant, brussels sprouts, parsnips. They just sit there all sad looking while they get passed by for the broccoli or carrots. Tsk Tsk. It’s really a shame. I think if everyone who thought they didn’t like cauliflower had a taste of this they’d change their tune and become a new found cauliflower
advocate cheerleader like me.
Maybe next time I’m in the market (which is pretty much Every. Single. Day.) I’ll stand in the produce section telling people they should give it a go. Pass out recipe cards. Toss a head of cauliflower into their baskets while they weren’t looking. Everybody is always in a rush you think they’d even notice?
That wouldn’t get me kicked out of the store would it?
This baked pasta dish is perfect for busy nights. Hello meatless Monday! It takes about 30 minutes top to bottom if you multi-task. Two pots/dishes are all you need. Y’all know how much I hate dishes so that makes me a very happy camper. Start by browning the cauliflower pieces (or white trees as my kids have called them since they were little, whatever gets them to eat them I’m okay with).
I could just pop the entire pan of those beauties into my mouth, they’re that good before they even mix and mingle with the rest of our ingredients, but I resist (well after I’ve snagged a few) .
From there we bring the rest of the ingredients to the party. We brighten up that comforting cauliflower with a little lemon zest and give it a swift kick in the pants with a pinch of chili flakes and then finally a little woodsy sage are thrown in for good measure.
We could stop right there and that would make a perfect side dish Just. Like. That. But we’re not making a side dish today, we’re working on a casserole, so into the mix goes our perfectly cooked al dente pasta and you know what comes next, it’s a casserole after all – CHEESE. Lots of cheese please.
2o minutes later you’re diggin’ in.
What You Will Need:
- 1 pound ziti
- 1 medium cauliflower, about 1 1/2 pounds
- 4 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil - divided
- Kosher Salt and pepper
- 3 garlic cloves - minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped sage
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 6 ounces coarsely grated mozzarella
- 2 ounces finely grated Romano cheese or other hard pecorino
- ½ cup Panko
What To Do:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook ziti in well-salted water until al dente. Drain. Set aside.
- Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom. Cut out core and stems and leaves. Discard.Break cauliflower pieces apart then cut each in half.
- Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add cauliflower in one layer. Allow cauliflower to brown and caramelize for approximately 2 minutes. Turn and continue cooking for additional 2 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add: garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, lemon zest. Stir to coat.
- Add cooked pasta and cheeses to skillet. Toss to combine. Top with bread crumbs and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
- Bake, uncovered, for approximately 20 minutes until top is golden.