2000s Recipes + Menus

Spaghetti With Cauliflower, Green Olives and Almonds

Serves4 (main course)
  • Active time:35 min
  • Start to finish:40 min
January 2007
Cauliflower, enhanced with toasty almonds and a briny parsley-olive mixture, holds its own as the star in this simple and slightly spicy vegetarian supper.
  • 1 1/4 cups pitted brine-cured green olives (plain or stuffed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 (2 1/2-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch-wide florets (8 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 lb dried spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 oz finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup; see Tips) plus additional for serving
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds with skin (3 3/4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped (see Tips)
  • Pulse olives and parsley in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cauliflower with salt, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and garlic is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in water and boil 1 minute. Add olive mixture and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water (see Tips), stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water. Drain in a colander and return to pot.
  • Add cauliflower mixture and toss well, then add cheese and toss again. If pasta is dry, moisten with some reserved cooking water.
  • Sprinkle pasta with almonds and serve immediately, with additional cheese on the side.
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