Spicy Penne with Cauliflower

Penne Cauliflower sauce finished

Since we found this recipe a few years ago, it’s the only way we have cauliflower. Even if you’re not fond of it, you might like it this way.

1 whole cauliflower
4 to 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
15 ounce can stewed tomatoes
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
8 to 12 ounces of penne pasta (whole wheat works fine)

Bring a half cup of water to near boiling in a small pot. Remove from heat and add raisins. (Allows them to reconstitute and soften.) Another way is to pour the hot water over them in a Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside.


Cut cauliflower florets from stem. Break them up into smaller pieces with your fingers and place in a steamer. Steam until just soft, not mushy, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and do not cover. Meanwhile, prepare remaining ingredients and put water on to boil for pasta.

Chopped stuff

I like to remove the large pieces of stewed tomato from the can and cut them in quarters, for a better mix in the sauce, but save and use the juice.

Heat a large frying pan on medium burner for a few minutes, then spread pine nuts out in it and toast them for a few minutes until they just start to brown, stirring often. Remove to a small bowl. Wipe any crumbs from pan and return to heat.

Add olive oil to pan and saute garlic for a minute or two until the smallest pieces just begin to brown. Add caulifower and stir for a minute, then add raisins (drained), stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper flakes, ginger and salt. Simmer on medium/low burner until sauce begins to thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cook pasta.

When nearly done, add pine nuts and parsley to sauce, stir and cook another minute or two.

Mix sauce with pasta in a large bowl and serve with fresh ground pecorino romano or parmesan cheese as a topping. Goes well with a side salad.

Recipe: from “Great Taste Low Fat Pasta” by Time/Life Books, with our own adaptations.

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