As a self-employed person, you are forced to wear many hats and this week, I am wearing one that says: ‘web designer’ 😉 . I’m serious, I am working on our new website as this current one, although it has served us (and hopefully you too!) well over the last 5 years really needs to be upgraded as it is looking somewhat dated and it no longer fulfils all of our needs. I’ve enjoyed the ride so far, but I find it quite all consuming and I struggle to juggle design work with recipe development and content creation (photoshoots, editing, writing), if I am honest.
Because of that, I have not been experimenting so much in the kitchen this week or even gone out food shopping as often as I would typically so I hope you are in the mood for pasta? I certainly am, but then I am always in the mood for pasta. It is probably my favourite type of comfort food and something I tend to resort to when my fridge is looking blankly back at me.
While a couple of leeks, half a cauliflower and some stale bread on the counter may not seem like much, to me that’s a delicious pasta right there. Both leeks and cauliflower get roasted in the hot oven. The cauliflower gets beautifully charred, while the leeks get soft and sweet with a very delicate onion-y flavour. Stale bread turns into breadcrumbs in my pestle and mortar, which once toasted, add extra bulk and texture to the pasta at the end. A few other fridge and pantry staples like a jar of capers, a lemon and some walnuts and 40 minutes later you’ll have eaten like a king. I hope you’ll agree and I shall return to my design so that I can regale you with a new look sooner rather than later…
- ½ large cauliflower (550 g / 19½ oz)
- 45 ml / 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- salt, to taste
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 smallish leeks
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp coarse breadcrumbs (optional)
- 30 g / ¼ cup walnuts, to serve
- 2-3 garlic cloves (3 if you love garlic), diced very finely
- 200 g / 7 oz linguine pasta or similar (GF if needed)
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp cashew cream* or other dairy-free cream
- zest of ½ lemon + 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp capers, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Heat up the oven to 210° C / 410° F (20° C / 70° F less on fan setting) and boil a kettle.
- Divide cauliflower into florets and place them and interior leaves in a mixing bowl. Coat with 2 tsp of olive oil, season with salt and 1 tbsp nutritional yeast. Arrange on 2/3 a large baking tray leaving some space around each floret.
- Next, cut dark green tops of your leeks (use to make stock or a soup). Trim off the roots, clean the leeks and cut each in half. Place leek segments in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, let them sit in hot water for 60 seconds, drain and dry with a kitchen towel.
- Coat in 1 tsp of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and arrange on the baking tray, next to the cauliflower. As opposed to the cauliflower, keep the leek segments close together. Place the tray in the preheated oven.
- After about 10 minutes, remove the leaves from the tray as they will be done quicker. After another 10 minutes, turn the cauliflower florets over and check on the leeks, they should be done (soft inside) in the next 5-10 minutes while the cauliflower may need an extra 5-10 minutes to get nicely charred. Once the leeks are done, chop them any way you like (I cut mine lengthwise to mimic the shape of my pasta).
- Meanwhile, toast breadcrumbs on a hot, dry pan, stirring frequently. Remove the breadcrumbs from the pan, and toast the walnuts until fragrant and lightly charred in places. Remove from the pan, wipe the pan clean and allow it to cool down before sautéing garlic or else it will burn.
- Cook pasta short of al dente. Drain reserving about 80 ml / 1/3 cup of pasta cooking water.
- Once the frying pan has cooled down a little, warm up 30 ml / 2 tbsp of olive oil in it. Once the oil comes to temperature, add finely chopped garlic.
- Sauté the garlic on a low-medium heat, until fragrant but do not let it brown. Stir the entire time.
- Add 60 ml / ¼ cup of pasta water, the rest of the nutritional flakes and dairy-free cream. Whisk well to emulsify, season with lemon zest, a dash of lemon juice, black pepper and salt, remembering that capers, added in the next step, are salty too.
- Toss the pasta in the ‘cheesy’ sauce quickly. Add a splash more pasta water if the pan is looking dry. Stir in capers, leeks, toasted breadcrumbs and parsley.
- Divide between plates, top with charred cauliflower and leaves. Sprinkle with extra parsley and chopped walnuts.