Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Indian-Spiced Cauliflower and Peas with Whole Wheat Pasta

Although it's a bit of fad, I really like Meatless Mondays. Like reusable bags and all manner of going green, this trend is one I hope to see continue. Chances are I've indulged a bit too much over the weekend and on Monday I need to get back to good habits with whole grains and plenty of vegetables. It's not to say that I don't enjoy dishes like that any other day of the week, but it is psychologically important to me to get the week off on the right foot. Chances also are that on Mondays I don't have a ton of motivation or time, and that's where easy, healthy pasta dishes become indispensable. This recipe became part of my menu during my last cauliflower kick before my CSA destined me to a winter of squash and root vegetables. I love all manner of ethnic food, but I find the spices used in Indian cooking particularly complementary to cauliflower, evidenced by the fact it shows up so often in that cuisine. Cauliflower isn't quite a blank canvas, but it does readily soak up all the fragrant spices that Indian cuisine has to offer. The heartiness of the cauliflower is balanced by fresh peas and acidic tomatoes, which blend nicely on a bed of nutty whole wheat pasta. Bursting with flavors of warmer climes, but satisfying enough for a cool fall day, this meal is an ideal transition between the seasons.

Indian-Spiced Cauliflower and Peas with Whole Wheat Pasta
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, cut into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes (one 16-ounce can)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen petit peas
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 pound small whole wheat pasta (penne, rotini, fusili, orecchiette, etc.)

1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes longer.

2. Add the cauliflower to the onion mixture; stir to coat. Add the water, bring to a simmer, cover, and steam for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the peas and cilantro and cook until the cauliflower is tender and the peas are hot, about 2 minutes longer.
3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the orecchiette until just done, about 15 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce.

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