Weekly Winner:  Embracing the Beige – my continuing defense of beige food

Everyone says you eat with your eyes first and that to truly eat well, one must “eat the rainbow”.  Generally I agree with that, however I have discovered that occasionally, an extremely tasty and complex meal is….well….beige.  And while it may be bland to the eyes, that does not necessarily mean it’s bland to the taste buds.  Case in point, Cauliflower-Onion Linguine.

I know a lot of people who say they don’t like cauliflower. I believe them, but I certainly do not understand them.  I am a great big fan of the cruciferous vegetable.  What I discovered with this dish, is that if you add fried onions to the mix — oh my!  It’s that little added bit of decadence that catapults this healthy dish right over and lands it smack dab in the middle of Incredibly Tasty Goodness Land.

Cauliflower-Onion Linguine comes from Food Network Magazine and is super easy and incredibly quick, thanks to the store-bought fried onions.  You might just spend more time cutting up the cauliflower than you will making the rest of the dish.  Make this dish, set the table with your brightest, boldest linens if you must, but go ahead — embrace the beauty and enjoy the bounty of beige food.

Cauliflower-Onion Linguine

Serves 4


12 ounces linguine

4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup panko

1/2 cup fried onions, chopped

4 cups cauliflower florets, roughly chopped

1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return to the pot and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add the panko and fried onions and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; wipe out the skillet.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook until the edges brown, about 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and toast 30 seconds. Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the liquid is reduced by half and the cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 1 more minute.

Add the pasta, onion mixture and Parmesan to the skillet and toss. Season with salt. Top with the basil, pine nuts and more Parmesan.