Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Husband's Recipes: Orecchiette With Roasted Cauliflower

Seventeen years ago when I met the Blond he looked at me funny when I said that anyone who really wanted to eat well needs to learn how to cook. Back then he lived on scary amounts of chicken and potatoes and would only consume green stuff if it was in the form of gummy bears. I still married him.

About ten years ago both of us became vegetarians for a variety of reasons (I was no longer eating meat for a while, but never declared myself a vegetarian until he did). In the last few years he took over the kitchen and has been perfecting his cooking skills to my utter joy. He came up with the idea to start contributing his culinary creations to the blog- after all, perfume lovers seem to also be food-oriented and enjoy spices, herbs and the aroma of cooking food. We're starting with one of my favorite pasta dishes, orecchiette with oven-roasted cauliflower.

Of course, we had to discuss which perfume goes best with this dish. The Blond was in favor of something light and Italian in nature. I think Eau d'Hadrien would go well here, or maybe something coastal like Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel or The Different Company Sel de Vetiver. Do you have more ideas?
In any case, here's the recipe in the husband's words. He also took all the pictures, and yes, we're more than a little retro when it comes to our kitchen and serving dishes:

Orecchiette with roasted Cauliflower – Sicilian style
I love cauliflower (a truly shocking statement for people who knew me in my pre-vegetarian days).
The savory/sweet taste and creamy / crunchy texture make it (when not boiled to death) a main ingredient that can stand up to bold seasoning and take center stage.
This recipe is a favorite of ours as it requires little more than the fresh cauliflower. Everything else comes from the pantry and the result transports us back to the sunny coasts of Italy.
Two  things to note about the preparation:
1.       The cauliflower is roasted in the oven.  Roasting creates a golden tasty exterior and soft moist interior while not being too greasy.
2.       The added benefit of the roasting process is that after the Cauliflower browns well, the pan can be deglazed with white wine. Deglazing adds huge flavor to the dish
Cauliflower  (1 medium head)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lb (450g) short  and thick pasta with like Orecchiette
Assorted herbs (Marjoram, Basil, Oregano, Thyme)
Crushed Chili flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oven to 380 F / 190 C.

2. Break the Cauliflower into florets or slice ( this is a cool trick: after removing the bottom leaves and cutting the end of the stalk, just slice the cauliflower head into ½ inch (1.25 CM) slices. The stem part can then be cut off but all the rest can stay together, which makes prep a lot easier. The stems themselves are delicious, they can be cut into thin  ¼ inch slices and added to the rest.

3. Arrange the cut cauliflower in a large baking pan, douse with Olive Oil and sprinkle generously with herbs, salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.
4. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes until it browns nicely on the bottom. Depending on your oven you may need to turn the Cauliflower slices over so they can get brown on both sides. Total time in the oven is usually around 30 minutes.

5. While the Cauliflower is in the oven:
  • ·         Put the raisins in warm water and let them soak
  • ·         Roast the pine nuts in a small skillet until golden brown.
  • ·         Grate the Parmesan cheese
  • ·         Cook the pasta

6. When the cauliflower is nice and golden from both sides, take out of the oven and pour the wine into the baking pan. Take a spatula and move the florets into a serving bowl. Deglaze the pan scrubbing all the brown stuff with the wine and pour on the cauliflower.
7. Add the raisins (with a little of their soaking water) to the bowl and then the pasta. Mix well,  garnish with parmesan and pine nuts. Serve.


  1. Sorry, but yuck!

  2. This looks awesome! I can't wait to see more recipes from you and the Blond! :D

  3. Mmmm yum will try it this week. May sub pumpkin seeds for pine nuts (allergic) and may cook pasta in chicken broth . I know chicken broth takes it out of the vegetarian realm but I'm craving lots (overload) of flavor right now.

  4. I'm a long-term reader. Love the direction your blog is going!

  5. Hi! What a wonderful dish!
    I do prepare a similar recipe, without roasting the cauliflower, and I see why roasting it might add extra yumminess to the dish!
    Thanks for the great tip, keep the recipes coming!

    On a side note, I loved your perfume picks; I also suggest some milky perfumes to go with the recipe, like chanel Egoiste (a pre-reformulated version with some real sandalwood). Also SL's un Bois vanille might accompany the roasted vegetable with its burnt sweet notes...

  6. OMG...amazing. I can't wait to try it. And I dislike cauliflower! Trusting The Blond on this one. :)

  7. I love spices and herbs AND perfume but never thought of the link before! thanks!

  8. This sounds lovely...minus the raisins. How fun that the Blond has taken up cooking! I will look forward to your sharing more recipes here.

  9. Omg this sounds delish! We've been quasi-vegetarian in this house for years and I love new veggie dishes. Think young one may balk at the would probably still be yummy without. Love the addition of chilli flakes! May make this tonight!

  10. I will be making this!

  11. sounds delish!
    I love the addition of recipes to your blog. Terrific idea - keep 'em coming :)

  12. Vegetarian recipes are exactly what I've been looking for lately. I've been trying to eat less meat (for ethical and health reasons) bit since I grew up in a household where every meal was based around meat, it's really hard for me to even know where to start. Thank you!

  13. Sounds delicious, copied the recipe, will have to conceal the fact that the main ingredient is cauliflower, since it is an unpopular ingredient in this household :)

  14. This is an excellent addition of recipes and food.

    Thank you, Mr. Blond!
    Will have to get some cauliflower next marketing day.

    Gaia, I hope you realize how lucky beyond words you are!

    Lawrence in Ohio

  15. Yum yum! The only thing I'd change is to soak the raisins in Vermouth and use the soaking mixture to deglaze the pan with the raisins and wine. The vermouth will release the fond in the pan and the raisins will slightly carmelise. I might subsitute sultanas for raisins as well.

    Cauliflower is so misunderstood- so many people have only tasted ones that are boiled into mush. The only veg that's been treated worse is Brussels Sprouts. (I have a great recipe for them..)

  16. reading my response it seems so know-it-all..

  17. mmmmmmmmm! yummy! i love cauliflower, too - after many years of thinking it was yucky. thanks for the delicious recipe. and, great pics, blond!


  18. Thanks everyone for your comments.
    The baseline for this recipe is the "Sicilian" style that combines hot, sweet and sour (Chili, Raisins and Capers). We did not like the sour part that much so I took the capers out but you can try that variation too.
    Tom, I loved your suggestion about the Vermouth, We'll try it next time!

    I was totally in the "Cauliflower is yuck" camp for many years. Used to quote Alf who famously said "vegetables are not food, they are what food eats!". As I mentioned, I first saw that vegetables are actually edible during our 3 week honeymoon in Italy. I promised Gaia to try everything once and was amazed at the flavors vegetables had when they weren't just boiled to death..

  19. I'm going to try this. I love fragrance and food ;)
    I forgot that you are vegetarian! I was raised vegetarian, 23 yrs I was one, but the husband wore off on me, but I still don't really like meat. I don't eat it frequently, I could easily go back.
    Love the Vera placemat too! My grandmother worked for Vera in the early 70's (after the "sell") and I have inherited alot of Vera.

  20. Princess Glee, I do love pasta in my soup but never thought of cooking that pasta in broth. It takes a lot of broth..

    Daly, the raisins counter some of the acidity from the wine so you can use other sweet ingredients like dried figs.

    Marina, the same preparation works great with Zucchini and even Eggplants

    Thanks Laurence, she taught me well..

  21. I made this tonight (well, just the cauliflower part to use as a vegetable dish) and it was WONDERFUL. Even my husband commented on how good the cauliflower was. Thank you, Blond. Next time, I will progress to the full pasta recipe.

  22. I made it! A huge hit and nothing left. Roasted cauliflower is a revelation! I want to try it with the raisins and capers with the chilli! Delicious!! Thank you :)

  23. Loved this recipe, what an excellent method of preparing cauliflower! I used Spanish smoked paprika, sundried tomatoes and cashew nuts instead of chili flakes, raisins and pine nuts, though, and it was very yummy indeed.


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