Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cauliflower Pumpkin Pasta 2/25

Yumm-o.  Rachael Ray doesn't focus on vegetarian recipes, but some really great ones can be found in her cookbooks, including this one!

This pasta has an unusual combination of flavors, and it works very well.  The fresh sage really stands out.  If you wanted to serve this as a side dish I think the flavors would blend beautifully with rosemary roasted chicken.  You could also add sausage for a heartier meal.

Pumpkin is packed with carotenoids (as are carrots - that's why they are orange), lutein and zeaxanthin which all attack free radicals (nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage).  Lutein and zeaxanthin scavenge free radicals in the lens of the eye, which may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.  You can learn more about the benefits of pumpkins here.

In short, pumpkins are very, very good for you.
Cauliflower Pumpkin Pasta
Serves 4 in under 30 minutes.
$1.00 per serving: Vegetarian or Gluten Free (if served over polenta)

  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 1 cup vegetable stock

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1/2 pound cavatappi (hollow corkscrew pasta) or other shaped pasta (replace with cooked polenta for gluten free)

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree* (found on baking aisle, careful NOT to get pie filling)

  • 1/4 cream or half-and-half

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (grate your own and avoid a shake jar if possible)

  • A dash of ground nutmeg

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves (dry will NOT work at all, get the fresh)
Preheat a large skillet (one with a tight fitting lid) over medium heat.  Add the oil and garlic and cook for 1 munite.  Add the cauliflower and turn to coat in oil.  Add the vegetable stock and bring up to a boil.  Place the lid on the pan and simmer the cauliflower for 15 minutes, or until very tender.

Place a pot of water on to boil for the pasta, when boiling add some salt to the water for seasoning and add pasta.  Or, start the polenta, for gluten free.
When the pasta is cooked and the cauliflower florets are very tender, remove the lid from the cauliflower and stir in the pumpkin puree and cream.  Heat through, then drain off the pasta and add it to the cauliflower and pumpkin.  Add the cheese, nutmeg, pepper, and sage.  Toss, then season with salt to taste.  Serve with extra cheese to pass at the table with a salad on the side.
Gluten-free last step: complete all the same steps above, except do not toss together.  Serve the sauce over the finished polenta.  You might want to add a little sage and parmesan cheese to the polenta while it is cooking so the flavors blend.
Adapted from 30-Minute Get Real Meals, by Rachael Ray (2005).
NOTE: I had my leftovers topped with ricotta cheese and that was AWESOME.

*We bought a 25+ pound pumpkin back in November and tokk a few hours one Saturday to process it into puree and roasted pumpkin squares.  This one pumpkin yielded over 30 cups of pumpkin!  To make homemade puree, peel the pumpkin and remove seeds.  Cut into 1 inch cubes.  Put on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toss.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 mnnutes, check regularly until it is cooked through.  Let it cool.  Freeze as is (for 1 inch cubes) or puree in a cuisinart until a desired texture is achieved.  As it is, unseasoned, this is the perfect baby food!

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