Ziti with Cauliflower

Makes 6 first course servings.

Makes 4 main-course servings.

Since the main ingredient of this dish is available year-round, this recipe is one of my tried-and true standbys.  I serve it warm or at room temperature depending on the season.


  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves very finely chopped

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • ½ cup pine nuts

  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup loosely packed oregano leaves

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound imported ziti


  1. Separate the cauliflower into very small florets and steam until al dente, about 3 minutes.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok, add the garlic, crushed red pepper and pine nuts. Sauté over low heat for a minute.

  3. Remove to a plate.

  4. Heat the rest of the oil in the wok. Add the steamed cauliflower and sauté over high heat, stirring frequently until the cauliflower is beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.

  5. Lower the heat and add the sautéed garlic mixture, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano leaves, salt and pepper.

  6. Bring 5 quarts of water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and all of the ziti. Stir and boil briskly, uncovered for about 6 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.

  7. Drain well in a colander and combine with the cauliflower.

  8. Season to taste with crushed red pepper lemon juice, salt and pepper.




Makes 6 appetizer servings or 4 main-course servings


• 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
• 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
• 1 cup tightly packed flat-leaf parsley
• 1 cup loosely packed arugula leaves
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• Kosher salt
• 1 pound imported ziti
• 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Freshly ground black pepper


1. Wrap the garlic cloves in foil and bake in a toaster oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft. Cool.

2. Peel the cloves and place them in a food processor along with the basil, parsley, and arugula. Adding the oil in a stream through the feed tube, pulse until semicoarse. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Cut the mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the cheese, along with the crushed pepper, to the herb mixture and combine.

4. Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt. Add all the ziti at once and stir. Boil briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.

5. Drain in a colander, refresh with cold water, and drain well again. Add the ziti to the herb and mozzarella mixture and combine. Season to taste with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.