Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley and Pasta

If you know me at all, you know I love meat.  Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is not my strong suit (is it still even five?! who knows?!).  That’s why you’ll be shocked to learn my newest cookbook is vegetarian.

Try and contain your shock.

It’s called “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison and you’ll learn everything you need to know about tons of great veggies, from growing them to trimming and preparing.  Great book and hopefully you’ll see more vegetable dishes here.  (


It’s comical how bad that picture is.  Winning!

Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley, and Pasta

  • 1 cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads (shout out to my mom for always sending me saffron)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • salt
  • 8 oz pasta (I used medium shells)
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Start by cutting up the cauliflower.  This is my first time cooking cauliflower and man, that’s a weird vegetable.  Like a hard white brain.

Side note: my dad HATES cauliflower so I never really ate it growing up.

Second side note:  raw cauliflower is so tasteless even my dog wouldn’t eat it off the ground.

Anyways, cut that brain up into little florets.  You can also cut up the stem into pieces but I got a little freaked out by that.  Plus I figured I had more than enough without the stem.

The recipe calls for steaming the florets, but I don’t have one of those handy steamer UFO things you put in the pot that holds the veggies over the water, so I decided to blanch them instead.  I’ll go into that later.

Prep the rest of your ingredients, for we all know that prep is the most important part of the process!  You don’t want to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off and with tears streaming down your face from cutting onions while you’re overcooking your cauliflower.  Always have everything cut and ready to go.


Small cameo in that picture of my Jambox, which is the best thing I’ve bought in awhile.  Bluetooth speakers for the WIN.  And yes, it’s gold.  YOLO.

Side note #3:  for those of us with crap vision, the key to NOT crying while cutting onions is contacts!  I figured this out on Thanksgiving a few years ago when I was wearing glasses and releasing a lot of eye water.  This was unusual for me, so I tried putting my contacts in and voia la!  No more tears.  Of course I didn’t learn from my mistake and was wearing my glasses last night.  I looked like I had been watching Marley and Me I was crying so much.

Anyways, bring two pots of water to a boil, one for the pasta and one for the cauliflower.  Also prepare an ice bath for the cauliflower.  You want to cook it in the boiling water, then shock it in the ice bath to halt the cooking process.


You’ll want to keep an eye on the cauliflower, as you don’t want it to cook completely through.  3 minutes or so should do it, you want to taste some and have it still have a little crunch to it.  It’ll cook completely later on in the skillet.

Pull the cauliflower from the pot and dump it in the ice bath.


Side note #4:  look at the awesome leggings I’m wearing.  Celestial!


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saffron.


Let that cook down together until the onion gets soft, about 6 minutes.  The saffron will turn the onion slightly orange.  Shout out to Jen for this awesome cast iron pan housewarming present!

Add a tablespoon or two of the parsley along with the garlic and red pepper flakes.  I would have added more red pepper but this measly amount was all I had left.


Add your cauliflower.


Also add 1/2 cup of water and some more parsley (not all of it!).  Don’t be scared if it sizzles a bunch.  Water and oil are not friends.


Toss it around to coat the cauliflower and continue to cook it for a few more minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through but not TOO soft or soggy.  Also taste and add salt as necessary.  I ended up adding three pinches or so to bring out the flavors.

Combine with the pasta in a large bowl and toss together with the remaining parsley.  Serve with the grated cheese on top.  I went with a heavy dose of Parmesan.  Consume.  Extra points if you’re watching Jeopardy like I was.


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