Linguine with Cauliflower and Sage Brown Butter

Adapted from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast

I typically like a lot of color in a dish. It’s pleasing to the eye (and photographs well!). Color is also indicative of vitamin and nutrient content – the more bright colors, the more nutritious. So what made me choose this monochromatic dish? Cauliflower is the centerpiece and offers plenty of nutritive value despite its distinct lack of color. This mild dish was a hit with the kids, though the adults thought it could use a little punching up (see tips below).

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the cauliflower florets and season lightly with kosher salt and black pepper. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Add the water to the pan and continue cooking until cauliflower is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook linguine according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water, then drain. Drizzle a little olive oil on top to prevent sticking.
  • In the same large pot, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, then add the shallots and sage. Cook until very fragrant and butter begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Once butter has started to brown, remove the pot from the heat and add the linguine, cauliflower, parsley and cheese. Taste the seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the reserved pasta water and toss to coat evenly.
  • Serve pasta in shallow bowls. Top each serving with additional Parmesan (if desired) and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I have a number of ideas for how one might add color and a bit more spice to this dish. Since I’ve taken the trouble to post it here, it’s a good dish. Don’t get me wrong. Nevertheless, it could use something. I might try a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper next time (add it to the butter with the shallots to really bring out the flavor). I might also suggest a handful of spinach or some broccoli to add some green. My husband also thought a little garlic might be nice. If you add 2-3 minced cloves with the shallot, that should do the trick.
  • 2. I used medium sized florets and this made it very easy for my kids to separate the dish into pasta and vegetable. Guess which they ate first? Hmmm. I don’t know. Next time I make this, I would chop the florets more finely so they are more likely to become part of the pasta dish. Maybe some would even be eaten unintentionally.
  • 3. I used the 365 brand whole wheat bread crumbs from Whole Foods. Since I think this dish would benefit from a more delicate bread crumb than the dried, coarse-ground variety found in the can, I would do the extra work of making my own the next time. Simply cut the crusts off any type of bread you like (I like wheat), then pulse in the food processor until you have uneven fluffy crumbs. I might even go the extra mile and toss them in a hot skillet with a little olive oil and salt to give them a delicate crunch. Now we’re talking.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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