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Roasted Cauliflower Orecchiette With Garlicky Breadcrumbs & Crispy Sage

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, Gather & Feast founder Ashley Alexander shares her recipe for cauliflower orecchiette with garlicky breadcrumbs and crispy sage.

We all know the humble cauliflower is one of the most understated and undervalued vegetables out there. What other vegetable can be turned into rice, steak, a pizza base or even mashed potato – and still taste so good? 

But we think it's time to expand your cauliflower horizons beyond the basic low-carb rice, which is why we're sharing the recipe to this incredible cauliflower pasta. It's creamy, it's crunchy, it's punchy (thanks to a little kick of chilli), and it's packed with flavour. 

While it's one of the most simple dishes you could whip up for your dinner guests, it looks and tastes very impressive, especially when served with a fresh salad and a glass of rosé. Indulgent yet packed with veggies, everyone will want a second serving. 

Serves: 4-6 

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, finely sliced
  • 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch chilli flakes, to your taste
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves (2 tbs finely chopped, the rest left whole)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of half lemon
  • 40g butter
  • 50g Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated
  • 350g dried orecchiette

For the garlicky breadcrumbs:

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (old sourdough bread blitzed in a food processor is perfect for this)
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely crushed or grated
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Method

Preheat your oven to 200°C/390°F (fan forced). Arrange the sliced cauliflower over two paper-lined baking trays and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake the cauliflower at 200°C/390°F for 20-30 minutes or until the cauliflower is golden. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, place a large frypan onto medium to high heat. Add the whole sage leaves, along with 1-2 tbs olive oil, and a generous pinch of flakey sea salt. Fry the sage leaves until crisp. Remove the sage leaves and set aside.

In the same pan, add the breadcrumbs, along with a little extra olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt flakes. Fry the breadcrumbs until golden and crispy. This will take a few minutes. Once golden and crispy remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbs), the chilli flakes, finely chopped sage leaves, and garlic, and sauté on low to medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Turn the pan off the heat and add the roasted cauliflower and lemon zest.

Cook the orecchiette as per the packet instructions in plenty of salted water. Reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Add the drained orecchiette to the cauliflower mixture in the pan. Now add the juice of half a lemon, the butter, Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, along with ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine, adding extra pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce. Taste for salt and lemon and add extra if needed.

Serve the pasta topped with the garlicky breadcrumbs, crispy sage leaves, and a little extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano.

Shop Ashley's look with our Terracotta tablecloth and Rust napkins.

For more from Ashley, follow her on Instagram at @gatherandfeast.

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