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Ravioli Day Roundup

Ravioli Day Roundup

It’s National Ravioli Day!  I get so excited about ravioli, it’s kind of ridiculous.  There’s just something so lovely about filling wrapped in dough.  Ravioli is particularly special, as it works so well with some of the best sauces out there (I’m thinking Alfredo, marinara, tomato sauce with vodka…you get the idea).  Did you know that the first written mention of ravioli occurred in the 14th century in Venice in the personal letters of a merchant?  Ravioli wasn’t served with tomato sauce, though, until the 16th century (because tomatoes weren’t introduced to Italy until then).  Prior to the 16th century, ravioli were served in broth.  If this doesn’t get you hungry for ravioli, I don’t know what will.  Maybe these ravioli recipes will do the trick.

Let’s start with Ravioli with Creamy Roasted Pepper Sauce from Confident Cook, Hesitant Baker!  The star here is the sauce – and it is such a quick sauce to make.  I’m holding on to this one for farmer’s market season when peppers are available in abundance.

Pumpkin and other winter squash is such a natural paring with ravioli.  Up your ravioli game by making these Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage, and Walnuts from What a Girl Eats

Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage, and Walnuts

Rabbit and Wolves prove that ravioli doesn’t have to be made using cheese for it to be good.  These Vegan Broccoli Rabe Pesto Ravioli are a perfect spring ravioli option for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Vegan Broccoli Rabe Pesto Ravioli

This Carrot Ravioli with Broccoli-Ricotta Filling from Caroline’s Cooking is another great spring ravioli option.

Carrot Ravioli with Broccoli-Ricotta Filling

This Balsamic and Garlic Mushroom Ravioli from Krumpli combines the great flavors of balsamic vinegar, garlic and mushrooms and wraps it all up in a neat package of yummy!

Balsamic and Garlic Mushroom Ravioli

Next up is Orange and Pecorino Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter from Use Your Noodles.  This looks like such a light and refreshing ravioli – just imagine how that bit of orange zest in the ravioli would complement the rosemary brown butter.

Orange and Pecorino Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli (With a Kick) from Slow the Cook Down gets its kick from the addition of a finely chopped red chili.

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli (With a Kick)

Kitchen Sanctuary’s Spicy Burrito Ravioli takes the traditional ravioli and gives it a great twist with the addition of burrito flavors.

Kitchen Sanctuary’s Spicy Burrito Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli Bake from the Girl on Bloor is a great quick meal if you have squash or pumpkin ravioli already on hand.  Ravioli pairs well with all the ingredients in this one dish meal.

Butternut Squash Ravioli Bake

Last, but not least, if you are still craving even more ravioli (which I always am), here’s a beautiful dessert ravioli: White Chocolate Mascarpone Ravioli with Raspberry Sauce from Pinch Me I’m Eating.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Ravioli with Raspberry Sauce

I’d love to be eating this right now – I’m starting to feel inspired to do a three-course ravioli dinner, with a ravioli appetizer, a ravioli entrée, and a ravioli dessert.  Maybe for next year’s National Ravioli Day!

Penne with Burrata, Peas, and Preserved Lemons

Penne with Burrata, Peas, and Preserved Lemons

Sometimes, the only thing that helps is comfort food, like penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons.  We’ve had another epic cold weekend here in the PNW with snow and ice throughout most of the Oregon and Washington again.  We’ve becoming more accustomed to the concept of snowpocalypse: in other words, it’s best to get all shopping down before the first flakes because there’s no salt on the roads and everyone panics.  On the plus side, there was very little traffic in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.  It’s the little things that make life enjoyable.

Penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemon is also a dish I like to make when I start longing for spring.  It’s got all the right spring notes: peas, lemon, and lush burrata cheese.  I have just a very few daffodils poking their first sprouts out already, though I swear every time it gets icy, they retreat.  I can’t say I blame them – I retreat, too.

I used frozen peas for this, though am so eager for fresh peas to be available.  Bookmark or Pinterest this one and make it with fresh peas and pea shoots – trust me, you won’t regret it.  Grind a bit of fresh pepper over the penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons and dream about the sunshine.  It has to be right around the corner.

penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons

penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons

penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons

Penne with Burrata, Peas, and Preserved Lemons


  • 1/2 package dried penne pasta or similar pasta
  • 1 ball burrata cheese
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, sliced into thin slices


  1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. At the end of cooking time for the pasta, add the frozen peas. Drain the pasta and peas. Distribute among four serving dishes. Garnish each dish with some of the preserved lemon. Tear the buratta cheese into pieces and add 1/4 of the buratta to each dish. Enjoy!
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This recipe is linked up to Tinned Tomatoes: Meatless Monday.  If you are looking for great vegetarian recipes, check it out!

Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Greens Pesto

Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Greens Pesto


I am a huge fan of all things winter squash (as you’ve probably figured out), making this recipe, a winter squash stuffed shells with greens pesto, one of my absolute favorite December lunches.  This has everything I most love about the fall and winter: the slightly sweet squash, salty cheese, pasta, and pesto made with kale, spinach and walnuts.  Since there is a small chance that there might be a little bit of snow in this part of the PNW tomorrow, this comfort food just seems perfect.

I used a combination of red kuri (my favorite) and the rest of the pumpkin puree I’d frozen earlier in the fall.  Fortunately, I still have one more pie pumpkin in the garage – I figure we still have a few more months of cold weather and might need to make some more pumpkin bread.  I also used a bit of the sage that is still growing out in the herb bed.

The pesto consists of both kale and spinach – really, you could use just about any combination of greens.  I also used walnuts, because it’s what I had on hand.  Pesto can be made out of any combination of herb or green, nuts, garlic, and Parmesan or other hard cheese.  I love to try out different combinations.  I also have started hand chopping my pesto – I think it helps the herbs or greens retain their integrity and not get mushy like they might in a food processor.  The taste is a lot closer to pesto I had in Rome many years ago, so I enjoy it for the nostalgic value, as well.

All together, the winter squash stuffed shells with greens pesto takes about forty minutes to make, and most of that time is hands off while it bakes.  It’s well worth the time.  It also makes a great freezer meal – making it very appealing for lunch.  Since it’s vegetarian, it would also make a great main dish for the holiday festivities for vegetarian friends and family.

winter squash stuffed shells with greens pesto

Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Greens Pesto


    For the shells:
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree or similar winter squash puree
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 + 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 box of large pasta shells
  • For the pesto
  • 1 cup tightly packed greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Add the shells and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
  3. In the meantime, combine the squash puree, the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the parmesan cheese, the sage, and the pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Drain the shells in a colander and rinse under cold water. When the shells are cool enough to handle, stuff each with about 2 tablespoons of the squash and cheese mixture. Place the shells in a single layer in a 9 X 13 baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese gets lightly browned on top.
  5. While the shells are baking, prepare the pesto. Put the greens, the walnuts, the garlic, and the parmesan in the middle of a cutting board and gently chop until the ingredients are finely diced and combined. Put the pesto in a small bowl and add the olive oil, gently combining.
  6. Serve the stuffed shells with the pesto and enjoy!
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This post has been linked to Tinned Tomatoes: Meatless Monday.  Check out her great posts!

Sausage and Spinach Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Spinach Mac and Cheese

The past weekend was the weekend for comfort food, including this sausage and spinach mac and cheese.  As the weather turns gloomy and we realize that the three hour move north really will make a difference in terms of the number of cloudy days and rain, I’m starting to dig around more in Pinterest and my own recipe archives to find foods that evoke warmth and coziness.  Mac and cheese is definitely one of these – it’s super indulgent and satisfying.

I much prefer making my own cheese sauce rather than eating mac and cheese made out of the contents of a box.  Making cheese sauce can be intimidating, as to get it to the proper thickness, you start with a roux.  A roux definitely borders the line between easy cooking into a more Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson world, but I promise you, it’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem.  The key is low heat and paying attention to the butter and flour in the first stage and then keeping a close eye on the milk or cream in the second stage.  Keep it on low, use a whisk to keep stirring, and just keep stirring and it will turn out just fine.

I recommend some sort of chicken sausage for this recipe – I used an Olympia Provisions sausage (OP is quite popular in this part of the PNW).  Spinach is a good go-to green to include, though this would work well with chard or kale, as well.

baked-mac-cheese-sausage-and-spinach mac-cheese-sausage-spinach-comfort-food

Sausage and Spinach Mac and Cheese
Serves 4

Cheese Sauce
1 head roasted garlic (optional)
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1 cup half and half or milk
2 cups cheese (gruyere works well, as does cheddar)

4 precooked sausages, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 bunch spinach
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ package rotini pasta or similar

Breadcrumb Topping
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the pasta according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, wash and chop the spinach.  Sauté the spinach on medium heat in 1 teaspoon olive oil until it is wilted.  Remove from the heat and drain in a colander to remove excess moisture.  Set aside.

Make the cheese sauce.  Add the butter and roasted garlic (if using) to a small sauce pan.  Melt the butter over low heat and mash the garlic as the butter melts.  Once the butter is melted, add the flour a little bit at a time and whisk it into the butter as you add.  When all the flour is incorporated, cook on low for a minute, continuously whisking.  Add the milk or half and half and continue to stir for about 5-7 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.  Once thickened, remove from heat and add the cheese, stirring to incorporate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble the pasta, sausage, and spinach in an oven-proof pan.  An 11 x 13 Pyrex pan works well for this. Spoon the cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and gently fold in.  In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the breadcrumb topping and then spread the topping over the mac and cheese.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.  Enjoy!

Pasta in Pesto Cream Sauce

Pasta in Pesto Cream Sauce

My pasta in pesto cream sauce recipe was created in response to a serious craving I’ve been having lately for Noodles & Company’s Pesto Cavatappi.  The problem is, I know darn well that the minute I go and order pesto cavatappi and then actually taste it, I’m going to be disappointed.  It will be too salty or too bland or too not what I remember from the many years ago I lived in the Denver area and Noodles & Company opened up in Lakewood and my ex and I would go there for dinner every weekend.

Part of the problem with food memories is that in memory, everything looks so tasty.  However, in the past ten years or so, I’ve greatly reduced the amount of sugar and salt in my diet, and I am starting to suspect that what made things tasty before I did this was probably the sugar and salt.  Now, the same ingredients make things taste “not right”.

In some cases, my solution has been to create the dish I think I remember, which is what I’ve done with this pasta in pesto cream sauce.  I would love for it to have been cavatappi in pesto cream sauce, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find cavatappi noodles anywhere.  I settled for orecchiette, though any pasta would be fine.

I had a bit of basil and some tomatoes left in the garden, so it seemed appropriate to finish out the last few days of the official summertime with pesto and tomatoes.  I used oyster mushrooms, but any mushroom would work.  Though this has a cream sauce, it freezes just fine – when you reheat it, just be sure to give it a good stir before you eat.


Pasta in Pesto Cream Sauce
Serves 4

Pesto Cream Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
Splash white wine (optional)
¼ cup pesto

Pasta and Toppings
½ package pasta (penne, orecchiette, or similar)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ pound mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Boil water for the pasta in a large pot.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft.  Add the parsley and turn off the heat.  Set aside.

To make the cream sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  When butter is melted, incorporate the flour a bit at a time, whisking with each addition.  When all flour has been incorporated, cook for a minute, whisking the entire time.  Add the half and half or cream and continue to whisk and cook over low heat for about 5-7 minutes (or until sauce is thickened).  Take the sauce off the heat and add the pesto.

Plate the pasta in four bowls.  Add the toppings to each bowl.  Pour the cream sauce over each bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Add salt to taste.  Enjoy!

Beet Ravioli in Wonton Wrappers

Beet Ravioli in Wonton Wrappers

This beet ravioli in wonton wrappers demonstrates my truce with beets.  I know I’m not the only one who was forced to eat beets as a kid and found the absolutely revolting.  It wasn’t until Clay and I joined a CSA when we lived in Southern Oregon that I even realized that beets come in more varieties than the boiled-to-death red kind.  I also discovered through that experience that beets can be very versatile – they can be used in chocolate dishes (which masks the intense mineral flavor pretty well); they can be sliced thinly and eaten raw; and then can be baked into beet chips.  They can also be part of many pasta dishes – from gnocchi to orecchiette to ravioli.

I used salt roasted beets with rosemary from Alexandra Cooks as the base for this recipe.  The rosemary gives this a heavy hit of flavor.  The recipe itself is fairly quick to put together, not counting the time it takes to roast the beets.  I strongly advise cooking just a few of the ravioli at a time, as they can be a bit fragile and you don’t want to lose all of the beet filling.  While the beet ravioli in wonton wrappers can be sauced with pesto or another pasta sauce, I’m fond of serving them with a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of walnuts, and some freshly grated parmesan.

just beets

beets in salt prebake

beet ravioli filling

beet ravioli with one filled

beet ravioli with wonton wrappers up close

Beet Ravioli in Wonton Wrappers
Serves 4

2 large beets, roasted or boiled (link to how to salt roast beets here)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
18 wonton wrappers

With a potato masher or fork, mash the beets until they become a smooth mix.  Add the grated parmesan cheese and mix well.

Place 9 wonton wrappers on a flat surface.  Place 1 tablespoon of the beet filling in the center of a wonton.  Repeat with the remaining beet filling and wontons.

Place a small bowl of water next to your work area.  Have 9 more wonton wrappers nearby. Using your finger, moisten a ¼ inch around the edge of a wonton.  Take a second wonton wrapper and place it over the wonton/beet filling.  Press around the edges to ensure a good seal.  Continue with the remaining wontons/beet filling.

When you are done, you can either freeze the ravioli or cook immediately.  Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.  Drop each ravioli into the water gently – cook no more than four at a time to avoid them sticking together or leaking.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the boiling water.

These can be served with pesto or with other pasta sauces.  I’m a fan of drizzling with a little olive oil, tossing on a few walnuts and grating a little bit of parmesan over the top.

Pesto, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Pesto, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

I’m humming On the Road Again as I type.  This week, I’ve only seen my desk for two days and next week will be the same.  What I’ve seen instead are meeting rooms, the Capital Mall in Salem, and one of the most-overpriced hotel rooms I’ve stayed in in a long time.  I’ve also seen a lot of my car, listened to four episodes of NPR’s Ask Me Another, one episode of This American Life, and one episode of Radio Lab.  In short, I couldn’t wait to get home to see my husband, the dog, the cats, and my comfortable bed.  I also couldn’t wait to get home to cook up some of the abundance that’s been developing in my little urban container garden.

I planted four tomato plants this year and three basil plants, two Sweet Basil plants (I’m guessing these are Genovese Basil plants – they are the ones that Trader Joe’s sells) and one Spicy Bush Basil plant.  The basil took a while to warm up to the idea of growing, but now that it has, I have a plethora of basil on my hands.  In past years, I’ve used my handy Cuisinart to create pesto cubes that I’ve frozen, but one of my Cuisinart parts didn’t survive the move to the new house, and I just haven’t gotten around to try to figure out if I can easily replace the part.  So – lots of Basil, no food processor, and a serious longing for pesto.  Fortunately, I ran across a recipe for How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother from 101 Cookbooks (one of my all-time favorite blogs – honestly, probably the first cooking blog I ever read regularly).

I decided last night to make two-days-worth of a simple pasta salad.  After a long drive home from Bend, Oregon, I retreated to the garden, harvested several bunches of both the Spicy Bush Basil and the Genovese Basil and started chopping.  Hand chopped pesto is a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I don’t have a mezzaluna, so used our sharpest kitchen knife and just chopped, chopped, chopped.  I skipped the garlic cloves (I had face-to-face meetings with people in the afternoon – didn’t want to offend anyone with raw garlic breath), used a little bit of parmesan cheese and a handful of pine nuts.  I chopped and chopped some more.  When I was finished, it wasn’t the prettiest pesto ever (basil oxidizes so quickly), but it was the best smelling and tasting basil I’ve ever made.  It’s the closest I’ve ever come to creating a pesto that I ate on our honeymoon in Rome – and I have the fondest memories of that pesto: it came from a corner grocery store and we ate it with handmade ravioli in the kitchen of the weird little villa hotel room we were staying at in a tucked away corner of the city.

This is less recipe than more a few suggestions about how to make a very simple, but very delicious meal.

up close pestopesto tomato mozzarella pasta salad

Pesto, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Dried or fresh pasta
Several handfuls of basil
A handful of pine nuts
Several large pinches of freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh mozzarella (in water, though you could also use regular mozzarella or even more parmesan or another cheese all together)
Olive oil

Boil a pasta of your choice using as much dried pasta as servings you are planning to prepare.  I used bow tie pasta since it’s what I had on hand.  Chop up a tomato or two.  Make the pesto by chopping up basil leaves, adding pine nuts and chopping, adding parmesan and chopping (see Heidi Swanson’s lovely full recipe here).  Add the pesto to your pasta.  Add tomatoes and cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil.

I heated this up for just a minute in the microwave at work, just to take the chill off the pasta and the pesto, but not so long to fully melt the mozzarella.


Roasted Tomato and Burrata Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Pasta Salad

When life gives you half an hour to make your lunch for the week, along with the first of the summer tomatoes and an abundant crop of basil, make Roasted Tomato and Burrata Bow Tie Pasta Salad.  So if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a number of beach-focused posts this past weekend.  One of the greatest parts of living in this part of the PNW is that the beach is only two hours away, and I was fortunate to happen to have a meeting along the coast on Friday, which led to a night’s stay in Bandon, Oregon, a small tourist town along the southern Oregon coast.  I ate seafood, picked up rocks and shells, and wandered along the beach.  This meant, however, that Saturday was consumed with beach-time and driving, leaving just one day to run errands and cook on Sunday.  I also realized, belatedly, that the Vancouver Marathon was happening on Sunday, which meant virtually no parking for the farmer’s market in Vancouver.  This gave me a great excuse for going to a different market across the river in Portland – the Montavilla neighborhood market, where I found the first cherry tomatoes of the season.  After having also crammed in shopping, a father’s day phone call, and a haircut, I was left with little time to be super kitchen creative. 

Thus, bow tie pasta salad with roasted tomatoes, basil and Burrata cheese.  Burrata cheese looks like a large round chunk of mozzarella.  The difference is that the exterior is very mozzarella like, while the interior is filled with creamy curds that melt very nicely.  It’s divine. Burrata was a rarity when we lived in rural Oregon, but here in the Portland area, it’s much easier to find.  This recipe comes together very quickly and makes a great lunch dish.  It would hold up well for a picnic, too. 


Roasted Tomato and Burrata Bow Tie Pasta Salad
Serves 4

8 ounces dried bow tie pasta
15-20 cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 balls of burrata
10-15 leaves of basil, torn into bite-size pieces
Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Olive oil to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put the whole cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet or pie pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped garlic.  Roast for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are wrinkly and soft.  Set aside and let cool.

Fill a saucepan about half way with water and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.  Drain the pasta.

Combine the drained pasta, the roasted tomatoes, and basil and toss.  Tear the burrata into chunks and add to the pasta/tomato/basil combination.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of ground pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. 

This can be eaten as is, or left overnight in the fridge and reheated the next day – no more than a minute or two in the microwave.

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

In my current job, I drive, a lot.  In addition to about a ninety minute a day commute, I’m also often on the road to go to meeting in other towns.  I find, however, that I actually enjoy the time in the car, as it allows me to listen to books I might not otherwise get around to reading and listen to podcasts I almost never had time to listen to before.  One of my favorite podcasts is Spilled Milk.  Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton do a weekly podcast, eating and talking about all types of food.  Last week, as I made the trek from one town to another, I listened as Molly and Matthew talked about cauliflower.  The takeaway for me was that cauliflower tastes best when it is sliced thin, drizzled with olive oil and salt and roasted.  And that I rarely ever eat cauliflower.  I decided I needed to immediately get ahold of some cauliflower and try to roast it, since I’ve yet to meet a vegetable I didn’t like drizzled with olive oil and salt and roasted.

I decided to keep this pasta dish simple.  It consists of little more than pasta, cauliflower, some toasted pine nuts,  red pepper flakes, a few capers, and some parmesan cheese, all drizzled with more olive oil.  I would imagine it would also be good with a bit of finely chopped red onion or some crispy garlic, but since these are intended for my lunch, I thought I’d avoid anything too garlicky.  I think it is essential to use real parmesan here – we’ve fallen into a habit of buying parmesan in a tub, which is a slight step up from parmesan in a can, but not quite the real thing.  The hardest part of this recipe was resisting the urge to eat all the cauliflower right off the pan.

roasted cauliflower cauliflower pasta with parmesan

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta
Serves Four

1 head cauliflower, sliced in thin pieces
Olive oil for drizzling
Pinch salt
4 cup cooked pasta
4 teaspoons capers
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup pine nuts
Parmesan cheese to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the slices of cauliflower in a single layer.  Drizzle olive oil over the sliced cauliflower and sprinkle with salt.  Bake for fifteen minutes.

Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over low heat.  Stir several times.  Take off the heat when the pine nuts are aromatic and light golden brown.

Combine the pasta, capers, red pepper flakes, toasted pine nuts, and cauliflower.  Drizzle with a splash more olive oil and grate parmesan over the top.