Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Onion and Orecchiette Warm Pasta Salad
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and red onions lend a sweet, nutty flavor to this warm pasta salad. Perfect with a full-bodied, warm region wine for dinner or lunch. Also works very well as a side dish to any grilled protein. Summer barbecues have a new companion and its Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Onion and Orecchiette Pasta.
Warm pasta salad is aiding my current attempt at trying to recover from beach brain. I don’t know if it’s a thing….but I’m going with it. I just came back from four magical days in Solana Beach. It was cold and stormy but that didn’t matter because we sat and stared at the ocean from our balcony. I like to Sleep with the doors open and be lulled to sleep by the calming ocean waves. It’s something I wish I could do every day. I promised myself I would work. Cook, photograph, write, work on my site, etc., etc. Let me just tell you, this didn’t happen and my plans to come back and post beautiful seaside dishes fell very flat lol I just can’t function when I’m there.
Dreams are a double-edged sword…
So much for my lifelong dream of working seaside. I wouldn’t get ANYTHING done. Am I giving up my dream? No, I’m determined to make it work….someday. BUT, for today, I bring you this beautiful warm pasta salad.
Yes, warm pasta salad. I know, they are usually cold and covered in Italian dressing. I love the standard-issue pasta salad, however, I grow bored easily and find that if I drown every pasta salad in Italian dressing, well, all the other beautiful flavors that you can enjoy in such a simple dish start to disappear.
A few notes to mention
This dish is a few things. It’s vegetarian, it’s full of flavor, it’s simple, it has a bit of a kick, and it contains turmeric. Turmeric is an amazing spice not only good for you but adds “something”. I use turmeric in my rustic chicken salad and everyone swears there is mustard in there. Does turmeric taste like mustard? Ummm, no. Just proves the point that we eat with our eyes first. Turmeric turns my chicken salad yellow hence the thought I use mustard. It’s one of those things that make me chuckle on the inside….you know, the little things.
However, I will tell you that I caught my family eating this warm pasta salad straight from the refrigerator the next day. I must say when I tried it, I did enjoy it just as much. It takes on a completely different texture due to the creamy sauce solidifying a bit but it is not off-putting. Still, my preference is to consume it warm.
I really did not want to cut up a whole head of cauliflower as I wanted this dish to be simple. Flash frozen vegetables contain as much if not sometimes more nutrition than fresh. Frozen at the peak of freshness, be sure to purchase a reputable brand for your cauliflower. I used a 1 pound bag of flash-frozen cauliflower florets, set them on the counter while I was prepping the onions and the chill wore off of them a bit.
Steps to making warm pasta salad
Remove your frozen cauliflower from the package and drain any residual water. Add your onions and cauliflower to a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, turmeric, white pepper, and celery salt. Place in your 425° preheated oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. This time will vary as oven temps vary.
Stir halfway through roasting time to prevent any burning or uneven cooking.
While your vegetables are roasting, boil your water and cook your pasta. Once pasta is cooked (10 minutes in boiling, salted water) drain and set aside. Reserve 3/4 of a cup of the hot pasta water and set aside. This is the magic juice that will help make the warm pasta salad creamy.
About ten minutes before your vegetables are done roasting, place olive oil in a preheated pan over the stovetop. Crush three garlic cloves and add to the warm oil. We are only flavoring the olive oil here so you’ll want to cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes or until you can smell the garlic. Remove garlic from the pan after the oil is flavored.
Once your vegetables are done roasting, add them to the flavored oil and stir to combine.
Add the wine, reserved pasta water, and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 5 minutes. A real quick note about wine and cooking. The best advice that I can give you, and I’m sure you’ve heard before, cook with a wine you are willing to drink. It’s so true. When the alcohol evaporates you will taste the concentrated flavor of the wine. So make sure it is a flavor you enjoy! That doesn’t mean it has to be pricey, just a taste that you personally like.
Add your drained pasta, cream cheese and parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
Place your spinach ontop and stir into the pasta. Continue to warm through for an additional five minutes. Your sauce should have thickened and will continue to thicken as it stands.
Plate and your warm pasta salad and it is ready to be served. Enjoy!
This recipe is inspired by a dish from a Pampered Chef party that I attended many moons ago. It is in no way made the same way and the only ingredients I’m sure of is the pasta lol. Memories, they are a fickle friend, right? The host used all of their hot new products of the season to make the dish she presented. I can not locate the original recipe anywhere so this is how I remember it. If someone has a link, let me know! 🙂
If you are loving cauliflower, check out our one-pan velvety whole roasted cauliflower. Beautiful, simple, and brown butter. Need I say more?
So, what are we waiting for?
Live, Love, Eat!
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Onion and Orecchiette Pasta Salad
- 1 pound bag frozen cauliflower florets
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for roasting
- 12- ounce package of Orecchiette Pasta
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup cream cheese – softened
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauce
- 1 bunch fresh spinach – bottom of stems removed
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Remove frozen cauliflower florets from the freezer and let sit while you prepare your onion. Thinly slice one medium red onion and drain your cauliflower to remove any water that defrosted. Add to a baking sheet and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the turmeric, celery salt and white pepper over the cauliflower and onion. Stir to combine. Roast in your oven for 20-25 minutes stirring half way through to prevent burning.
- MEANWHILE, as your vegetables are roasting, bring your pasta water to a boil, salt and add in the Orecchiette. Cook for 10 minutes once boiling. RESERVE 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain your pasta. Set aside.
- MINUTES before your vegetables are done roasting, preheat your pan and warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in three crushed garlic cloves and flavor your oil for 5 minutes or until garlic is very fragrant. Remove garlic cloves and stir in your roasted vegetables.
- Pour in your wine and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. You may need the other 1/4 cup depending on how your pasta absorbs the liquid. Add in the red pepper flakes and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add in the parmesan and cream cheese and stir until well combined.
- Top with the fresh spinach and stir to combine. Let the dish warm through for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, plate, serve and Enjoy!