cooking · Dinner

Saffron Cauliflower with Penne Pasta

The recipe I based this off seemed interesting enough but was poorly written, the directions were vague at best. I came across it in the October issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray. I decide to play with it and see if I could it get it to work, and as well make it vegetarian (it had called for chicken broth). The issue with the directions is it talks about cooking part of the ingredients and then doesn’t say what to do with them after cooking. Add in that the photo is missing those ingredients, it left me wondering just how edited the recipe had been…..

Anyhow, long story short, I played with it and invented my recipe using it as an inspiration. That worked well.Inspiration can be fun. I found it quite delicious, although some might prefer using broth instead of water in the sauce.

PS: I know saffron is expensive. Buy it in bulk spice sections, it is affordable compared to buying it in the spice aisle.

Saffron Cauliflower with Penne Pasta


  • 12 to 13 ounce package whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1½ cups water
  • Big pinch saffron threads
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Parsley


Steam the cauliflower till you can just poke a fork through a thick section, set aside.

Meanwhile put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Lightly salt, add the penne and cook for time on package. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, drain pasta.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high while water is coming to a boil, add the olive oil and onion, sauté until tender. Add garlic, raisins and lemon zest, sauté for a minute. Stir in water, saffron and lemon juice, then the cauliflower, pepper and salt. Use a potato masher to break the cauliflower into small pieces. Bring to a simmer, turn to medium and cook while the pasta boils.

Add in the reserved pasta water, hot pasta and the cheese, tossing till coated. Sprinkle on a healthy amount of chopped parsley, tossing to coat.

Serves 4.


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