Cauliflower Piccata

Roasting the cauliflower first allows it to caramelize, bringing out sweetness and vibrant flavor. This makes a terrific side dish with a simple roast chicken, but it also stands alone nicely with a big green salad.

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette (or other short pasta)
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Wash the cauliflower well, then remove the thick middle stem and break into small, bite-sized florets with your hands. Place the cauliflower florets on a rimmed baking sheet, then drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to combine. Roast cauliflower on the middle rack of the oven for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, tossing once. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly as you prepare the pasta and the piccata sauce.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a vigorous boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining, you may want to scoop out a little of the starchy cooking water for later (see tips). Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  • To make the piccata sauce, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallot until it becomes translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and capers to the pan. Turn the heat up to high and add the white wine. Cook until most of the liquid has been reduced, about 2 minutes. Swirl in the butter, then remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the roasted cauliflower, then toss with the parsley. Fold in the pasta, using a touch of the cooking water to thin the sauce (if you remembered to reserve it). Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using. Serve hot.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I typically remember to scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta before draining. It helps thin the sauce and makes the dish come together nicely at the end. I forgot to do that this time and it wasn’t dry, luckily. You may want to scoop a little water out in case you need a bit of moisture as you toss pasta with cauliflower and sauce.
  • 2. My boys like meat, so a dish like this as a main course is typically met with trips to the fridge to nosh on prosciutto, cheese and whatever else they can find. I think the portions as listed here are generous for a main course with a salad, but if you have a very hungry  crowd – as I do – you might want to double it as a main.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

2 responses to “Cauliflower Piccata Orecchiette”

  1. Liz says:

    I am going to make this this weekend!!

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