Taking a nudge from my friend Melissa (The Faux Martha) I plunged deep into my pantry and did a major overhaul. Some of my reasons for doing so now could quite possibly be resistance, a way of avoiding starting a big project but mostly I did it because it needed it. My biggest piece of advice for those looking to put good food on the table every night is to keep a well stocked pantry. Some people meal plan and that’s great, for them. It’s never worked for me. I love being inspired to cook what feels right and sounds delicious in that moment. So I keep the basics in the pantry and fresh produce in the fridge so that at any given moment I have dozens of dinner possibilities within reach.
Up until a couple days ago you couldn’t see the lentils from the beans as the shelves were filled with stale nuts and random bits still in their bulk bin packaging. Now I’ll take a few extra steps to walk by the pantry just to ogle at my momentous completed task. I pat myself heartily on the back as I take in the site of neatly arranged rows of Ball jars all lined up with their appropriate labels. Yes, there are even labels! I don’t even know myself anymore.
This pasta dish is made possible with a stocked pantry but don’t worry a label maker isn’t a necessity. Linguine and cauliflower are forever staples in our home and while ricotta and dill aren’t always on hand those are a quick grab from the store or can easily be substituted for another soft cheese such as feta or goat cheese. Now that I think about it a flurry of shaved Parmesan or Pecorino is not a bad alternative. If dill isn’t in your crisper mint or parsley would substitute nicely.
Pasta is not only an ever present staple in our pantry it’s also one of those meals where the response to the question “what’s for dinner?” is met with cheers instead of the more popular moans. This particular pasta accommodates an entire head of cauliflower and heaps of grassy dill so its merits abound while the comfort of twirling wide noodles around your fork and dipping into mounds of pillowy ricotta make said merit exist without much notice.
Roasted Cauliflower Linguine with Ricotta and Dill
Yield 4 servings
Cauliflower is a staple in our house. It’s one vegetable on a short list that will receive zero complaints from my often picky-eating children. Roasting is always my go to and here I don’t even bother coring or removing the leaves. It will spend so much time in the oven that even the tough core will submit to a sweet creaminess. The key here is to chop the cauliflower quite small to get more of those crispy charred bits.
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
4 garlic cloves, roughly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili flakes
8 ounces linguini
1 cup roughly chopped dill
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup ricotta
Preheat the oven 425°F
Add the cauliflower and garlic to a sheet tray (parchment lined for easier clean up). Drizzle the olive oil over top along with 1 teaspoon sea salt and the chili flakes. Stir that up a bit to combine.
Roast 30 - 45 minutes or until deeply caramelized stirring halfway through for even roasting.
Cook the pasta according the directions on the package.
Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup pasta water.
Combine the pasta with the roasted cauliflower, fresh dill and a hefty squeeze of lemon. Stir in some of the pasta water starting with 1/4 cup then adding more if it appears dry.
Add the pasta to a serving bowl then finish with several large dollops of ricotta, a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of salt, flake if you have it.