Do you ever linger at the stove after the vegetables have been roasted, oven door ajar and fingers splayed to enjoy that last blast of heat? It’s been so cold lately that I have found myself huddling over the pan while making eggs in the morning, rewarming a cup of tea ten times throughout the day just to cuddle with it. For that reason I have found myself preferring anything that can be consumed in a bowl – you cannot really grip a plate and greedily savor its warmth.
Originally I was going to call this dish Simple Winter Pasta. But there’s a lot going on here, perhaps too much to warrant it being called simple. It’s not complicated, however, and certainly won’t require as much time or as many steps as last month’s Coq au Vin. But there’s a lot going on: the capers, anchovies and parmesan all play off each other in salty, briny, tangy goodness; the cauliflower and brussels sprouts are browned to caramelized perfection. The pasta acts as a simple vehicle, the parsley adds a little green, the chili some heat, and the lemon a touch of brightness. There you have it.
WINTER PASTA WITH CAULIFLOWER AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS
12 ounces pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
1 small or medium head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, chopped
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons capers
4-6 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste (adjust according to taste)
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
salt + pepper to taste (as this dish has a lot of salty components, taste before adding)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a pot of water on the stove for the pasta.
Toss the cauliflower and brussels sprouts in one tablespoon olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned at the edges and soft in the center, about 20-30 minutes. Turn once about halfway through. And keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t overcook!
While the cauliflower is roasting, cook your pasta according to instructions on the package.
When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return pasta to the pot to keep it warm. Add the two remaining tablespoons of oil to the pasta, then the parsley, parmesan, capers, anchovy paste, lemon zest and chili flakes. If it’s a little dry, add some of the cooking liquid. Toss gently to distribute everything. Add the cauliflower and brussels sprouts and toss again, gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the pasta needs to be reheated, do so over a low flame, stirring to prevent burning.
Garnish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley if desired.