Note: This vegan-optional dish (simply omit the cheese) from "Herbivoracious" epitomizes author Michael Natkin's flavorful attitude toward vegetarian cooking: "Done properly, each bite is a little surprise that might be sweet, spicy, salty, toasty, herbaceous, or all the above."
1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup raisins, plumped with hot water, drained
1 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Freshly grated Parmesan
1. Heat a very large pot of well-salted water to a roiling boil; add the cauliflower. Boil 5 minutes; transfer to a colander with a slotted spoon. Drain for a few minutes. (Leave water boiling in pot for use with the spaghetti.) The cauliflower will not be fully tender.
2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes; cook 20 seconds. Add drained cauliflower and 3/4 teaspoon salt; toss to coat with oil. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and developing deep-brown caramelized spots. Keep the heat high; don't toss the cauliflower too often, so that the surfaces on the bottom of the pan brown. When it is nearly done, mix in the orange juice, half of the orange zest, the lemon juice, capers and raisins. Turn off the heat.
3. Cook the pasta according to manufacturer's instructions until al dente; drain immediately, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
4. Add the pasta to the cauliflower mixture; set over medium heat. Toss everything together. If the dish seems a little dry, add a ladle or two of the pasta water. Raise the heat to high; cook about 1 minute . Taste; adjust seasonings.
5. Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, the remaining orange zest, the pine nuts, pepper, parsley and Parmesan.
Per serving: 709 calories, 21 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 113 g carbohydrates, 21 g protein, 634 mg sodium, 14 g fiber.