I’m a big fan of cooking cauliflower until it’s almost creamy … especially in pasta dishes like this one. It becomes part of the sauce, adding heft and health to just a handful of fettuccine.
1 cup thinly sliced leeks (tender white parts only)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
12 ounces fettuccine (preferably whole grain)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 lemon (Meyer lemon is great), zested and juiced
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
Flake sea salt
1/4 cup snipped chives
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Pour 1/4 cup water into a large skillet over medium heat, and add leeks and cauliflower. Cover and cook for 4 minutes, until cauliflower is just becoming tender. Start cooking pasta. Drizzle olive oil into the pan with the cauliflower and toss with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until cauliflower and leek start to color a bit and cauliflower becomes fork tender, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup water. Pour the pasta water into the pan with the cauliflower and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice. Pour pasta back into the pot and scrape cauliflower mixture over it. Mix very well using tongs and a stiff spatula. Add cheese and toss again.
Divide the pasta mixture among four plates and top with flake sea salt, chives and additional cheese if desired.
I fell in love with this simple, stunning Melone e Limone (Melon and Lemon) appetizer at our friends’ wedding recently. The peeps behind the awesome SCOPA restaurant here in Healdsburg, CA, had cut fragrant, peak-of-season melone (that’s Italian for melon) into tiny (perfect) cubes, tossed them with lemon juice and served them mini skewers with a sprinkle of sea salt as an hors d’oeuvre. I’ve made several more rustic versions since; this is my favorite. It also makes me smile because my daughter, Noemi, still mixes up the words ‘lemon’ and ‘melon’ … so this easy side dish spares her the riddle. So, pick up some fresh melone, and enjoy!
Trennette is a three-sided, quill-shaped pasta that is a fun shape to use with chunky sauces. If you can’t find it, use penne rigate.
3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
Zest of 1 whole lemon, plus 1 teaspoon juice
1/2 pound trenette pasta
1/2 pound spinach
1 (8-ounce) can high-quality, sustainably-caught tuna in olive oil, removed from oil and broken into large chunks
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
Sea salt and red pepper flakes
Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, vegetable broth and lemon juice. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Three minutes before pasta is done, add the spinach. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before straining.
Toss the pasta gently with the sauce, lemon zest, tuna and capers. Add pasta water tablespoon by tablespoon if needed. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.