As a child, I don’t remember being tortured by Brussels sprouts. I can vaguely recall not liking the canned ones and refusing to eat them, but I don’t think they made a regular appearance on our kitchen table. I’m quite sure that I had them at various holidays, and I can remember them being served a long time ago at Thanksgiving, but I don’t have scary flashbacks to bad Brussels sprouts encounters. I do, however, have scary flashbacks to salmon croquettes and those frozen mixed vegetables (the square carrots and peas). Even dicing fresh carrots can bring on an attack of reverse nostalgia. Man, I hated those things, and I really hated having to “clean my plate”. I have some twisted childhood stories about how I managed to get “around” eating some of those things – but that’s a story for another day.
This Friday finds me eating Brussels sprouts – again. I didn’t have to work hard to convert the little one, but I’ve made the recipe three times now and might slowly be swaying the big one over. She’ll eat the pasta and the cauliflower, as well as the Brussels sprouts,but neither girl will touch the onions, even though they are roasted to the point of being as sweet as candy.
The roasted vegetables are yummy, but the combination of the pasta and the oil and the cheese and the juices from the veggies create this really buttery flavor, without the butter. I’ve never tasted a dish that flavors the pasta so well – every bite is delicious, even if you don’t have any vegetables on your fork. It tastes delicious the next day for lunch (which is why I’m calling this a Friday Find even though we made it on a Thursday). It goes together pretty quickly, and the vegetables roast up quickly, so it’s a great weeknight dish.
Last night the girls came running into the kitchen for dinner and E yelled to her sister “F! Look! It’s Brussels Sprouts!” Now that’s a weeknight miracle if I’ve ever heard one.
Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Rigatoni
adapted (and enlarged for 4, plus leftovers) from Real Simple
- one box (16 oz.) of rigatoni – sometimes I hold back on some of the pasta if it overwhelms the pasta to vegetable ratio
- 1 lb of Brussels sprouts – the smaller the better, cut them in half to form two bite sized pieces. If they are larger, cut them into quarters
- one head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces, roughly the size of the cut Brussels sprouts
- 1 medium red onion – cut in half and then cut into 1/2″ slices
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a pinch or two of dried)
- 5–6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 3 ounces of grated pecorino cheese – about 3/4 cup, but some additional for serving (you could really use whatever kind of grated cheese you’d like here, but I love the pecorino with this dish
Pre-heat oven to 450° F. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, and then drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water for later. Once drained put the pasta back into the pot.
Toss the cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and onion with the thyme, 3-4 tablespoons of the oil, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and spread over 1-2 rimmed baking sheets (cover with foil first for easier cleanup if you like). Roast on the center rack of the oven, tossing the vegetables, until golden brown and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
When the vegetables are done, add them to the pasta pot along with the pecorino, ½ cup of the reserved cooking water, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pasta and toss to combine (adding more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).
Serve while hot, and sprinkled with additional pecorino if you so desire – and why wouldn’t you?