Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cauliflower Pasta "Sauce"

Meant to post for "Meatless Monday," which I haven't done in months... Oh well!

We go through phases where we'll eat this dish almost every week. I like to use Trader Joe's brown rice pasta. The cauliflower "sauce" would go well on a number of dishes, though... like on rice or quinoa, or even to top a pizza.

1 med. sized head cauliflower
1 head of garlic
olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
maple syrup
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
kosher salt
1/4 c. half & half (to thin, if desired)

Roast garlic: 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the head off of the garlic, so that just a bit of most of the cloves are exposed. Drizzle a Tablespoon or so of olive oil onto a sheet of foil and place the cut side of the garlic down onto the oil, then wrap it tightly in the foil. Stick it in the hot oven while you prepare the rest. (About 30 minutes is fine, but longer is okay, too.)

Steam cauliflower:
Chop the stem off of the cauliflower, leaving the head whole. I cut a ~1/4" thick X into the bottom, too -- whether this really helps it cook, I don't know. Probably not, but there you go. Place in a large saucepan w/ 1-2" of water in the bottom and cover. Bring to a simmer and simmer until fork-tender. You want it tender enough to mash up easily, but not so tender that it completely falls apart when you remove it from the pan. If it does fall apart, though, it's okay -- really more of an inconvenience. The sauce will still be yummy.

Caramelize onions:
Heat a couple Tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. I use a mandolin slicer to quickly slice the onion at the thinnest setting. Saute the onion until transparent, then reduce heat to medium-low and add a couple of teaspoons maple syrup. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until caramelized to your liking. 

Relax a bit while everything roasts/steams/caramelizes. There is no exact time here. Cook your pasta if you're going to put it on pasta. Prepare your pizza crust if you're doing pizza, etc.

Carefully "pop" the garlic cloves out of the skin. Sometimes I do this while it's still quite hot -- use a fork; sometimes I let it cool enough that I can squeeze them out w/ my fingers. Remove/drain cauliflower and mash it down a bit. Add the onions. Using an immersion blender, blend it all together. I like to blend until smooth, but you can blend until the texture you prefer. Now stir in: parmesan cheese, nutmeg (this is really optional, but it reminds me of a b├ęchamel sauce, which I love), salt and pepper to taste. Thin it out w/ the half & half, if desired.


Oh - and use your leftover pasta and/or sauce in a frittata for the next day's dinner. This one was tasty:

Included leftover pasta w/ cauliflower sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts.

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