Quick and Easy Cauliflower, Spinach and Pasta

It was a Sunday evening, dinner was planned to include chicken, cauliflower and spinach. Maybe other ingredients but these were on the chopping block so to speak and needed to be used in the meal. I was a bit out of ideas on what to make and decided to turn to the Food Network for some inspiration. After searching for cauliflower and spinach the first result seemed like a winner – “Paccheri Pasta with Cauliflower and Spinach” by Guy Fieri. I scanned the recipe and it looked easy enough, had good reviews and included our ingredients so we went to work. This was an excellent recipe. I say this often but I really mean it every time – we are definitely going to plan on cooking this again. It really took only a half hour so I can envision us making this on a weeknight when we get home a bit later and want something ‘quick’. As with most recipes we did do some modifications, you can find the full recipe from Food Network here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/paccheri-pasta-with-cauliflower-and-spinach-recipe/index.html , but here is how we made it:

3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
2 tsp red pepper flakes (or a bit more than a pinch since that’s a ridiculous thing to have to measure out)
1 bunch of fresh spinach
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 lb of pasta – rigatoni would be great, we used Wegman’s Riccioli (http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=699547)
1 lb of chicken, cubed
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

To Cook:

Bring water to a boil in a medium stock pot (be sure to choose one large enough to cook your pasta in). Once the water is boiling toss in your cauliflower. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. While the cauliflower is going, get a medium saute pan (one that is big enough to fit your cooked pasta, cauliflower, crushed tomatoes, etc in) heated up with the olive oil, red pepper and garlic for about one minute. Also start slowing cooking your chicken in another pan. You can also grill your chicken if you prefer, either way get the chicken rocking in a separate pan.

Gather up the cauliflower from your boiling water and add it to the oil and garlic in your saute pan. Do not add any of the cauliflower water, but do not dump it out either, you’re going to use that water for your pasta so leave it warm on your stove for now. Saute your cauliflower with the oil, garlic and red pepper until the cauliflower starts to lightly brown (about 4 minutes). Add your chicken stock to deglaze the pan, add your spinach and cover for about 2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt.

At this point feel free to start your pasta as your sauce should be ready in about 5 minutes. If your chicken isn’t quite ready then wait until the chicken is nearly finished to cook your pasta. Remember, your pasta should be slightly al dente for this recipe, you definitely do not want to overcook the pasta!

Add your crushed tomatoes to the spinach and cauliflower mixture and stir, reducing the heat to a simmer (also remove the cover at this point). When your chicken is done add that to your ‘sauce’, and after draining your pasta add your cooked pasta to the sauce as well and toss. If you want to add a bit of the starched water from the pasta pot that would also work, some people enjoy the extra flavor a bit of that water adds. Toss everything in the saute pan, and then move to your serving bowl (or if you are lazier like us, throw a trivet on the table and serve!). You can also add cheese, extra red pepper, black pepper, etc to taste. I’m not one to add anything, so I didn’t but Greg did add extra red pepper to give it a kick.

This meal produced a great quantity for two people, so we both had our leftovers as lunch the next day and it was just as good as the night it was served. Again, this took about 30 minutes total, it was easy to get the next/upcoming ingredients ready as the first few steps were moving along and it only took 3 pans for a delicious meal! Definitely recommended by us! If you try it the Guy Fieri original way that we didn’t follow I’m sure it would be just as if not more delicious, at least the recommendations say so! Enjoy everyone!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by whit on November 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Red pepper was a nice addition. Adding just a tiny amount of kick can be that one thing a simple dish needs sometimes. Great way to incorporate cauliflower and spinach into a diet lacking both. Thank you!


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