Baked Cauliflower Pasta With Artichokes & Olives
For me, there’s nothing more comforting than a baked pasta dish. Well…pasta in general. But you can’t beat that cheesy, gooey, hot out of the oven quality that baked pasta has. Whether it’s lasagna (one of my all time favorites), baked ziti or manicotti, I just love that sense of comfort those dishes bring.
The past 2 weeks were definitely a baked pasta kinda week. Let’s just say it was a very, very, very long 2 weeks at work. We were acquired by a large hospital and the transition to the new system has been far from seamless. Everyone is stressed and not in their best moods ever. There are tons of extra “helpers” around the office trying to make the change more easy. Though frankly, half the time they seem to make it even more confusing. And of course every process takes a million times longer since most of us still have no clue what were doing. Ugh…AND there’s no coffee in the office. How am I supposed to start a constructive day without coffee? I mean, seriously??? Let’s work on that problem!
So work stress has been my life lately. And I’m surprised that dinner came out of the oven at all! Generally, when stress levels are high all I feel like doing is eating out, going to bed early and skipping my am workout for an extra hour of sleep. So the fact that this Baked Cauliflower Pasta With Artichokes & Olives was created, is kinda a miracle in my world. Even better, is that this was an incredibly healthy dish – chock full of veggies, lean protein and whole wheat pasta. Definitely good for a stressed mind and body.
The sauce is completely cream free and only has a little bit…well ok an entire cup of parmesan cheese. But that’s it! The sauce gets a thickened consistency from mashing up the cauliflower slightly and adding in a splash or two of the starchy pasta cooking liquid. It’s really quite a light sauce. And when baked together with the pasta and parmesan cheese, it makes for a really good baked pasta dish.
I hope you try this dish! I think you’ll definitely love it – especially if you have a love for pasta! It’s even good if prepped ahead. That way all you have to do is stick it in the oven when you come home from work. Perfect quick meal. Gosh I love those…quick and delicious. I so need that in my life right this moment!!! Enjoy!
Baked Cauliflower Pasta With Artichokes & Olives:
- 16 oz whole wheat short cut pasta like rigatoni
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 vegetarian or meat based Italian sausage links, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head cauliflower roughly chopped
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
- 8 oz baby spinach roughly chopped
- 8 oz artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided
- juice and zest from 1 lemon
- Cook pasta according to directions. Before draining pasta, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F.
- While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the sausage and sauté until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add onions and sauté for about 5-7 minutes or until starting to turn opaque – add a touch more olive oil if needed. Add garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add white wine and deglaze the pan scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. After about 1 minute add in the 1 cup of vegetable stock, cauliflower, olives, spinach, artichoke hearts, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender.
- Once tender, mash the cauliflower mixture with potato masher or fork until thoroughly broken down with pieces no larger than a chickpea. Add back the cooked sausage, 1 cup of parmesan cheese and the juice and zest from the lemon. Stir, taste and adjust for seasonings.
- Add pasta to the cauliflower mixture stirring to combine. If too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water. You want the mixture to have a little bit of wetness to make a sauce, but not soupy.
- Once combined, pour pasta into a 9×13″ baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until top is golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately and enjoy!