I know what you're thinking. Cauliflower Pasta? BOOOOORRRRIIIING..... Unless it's smothered in massive amounts of cream and cheese, in which case you've kind of defeated the purpose of eating cauliflower, amiright? Well, hear me out here because this is some seriously delightful stuff, AND you won't bust your diet... unless you eat the whole pot, which you will be tempted to do because this stuff is just that good.
The secret weapon here is anchovies, or, more specifically, boquerones. Boquerones are white anchovies cured in herby vinegar and are one of my absolute favorite Spanish foods.
They have a much more delicate flavor than your run-of-the-mill canned anchovies and are seriously worth seeking out. I get mine from a local Spanish goods importer, but you may be able to find them in nicer grocery stores as well if you're looking to shop local. That said, if you can't find boquerones anywhere or don't want to shop online, canned anchovies will absolutely work just fine. Just be sure to give them a quick rinse before mincing them, as they are much saltier than boquerones.
For those of you thinking, "Eew. Anchovies? Nah," let me just reassure you that the end product here is not fishy, especially if you use boquerones as opposed to regular canned anchovies. On the contrary, they merely lend a depth of flavor that compliments the nuttiness of the cauliflower perfectly. Some call it umami. I just call it delicious. So set your anti-anchovy feelings aside for a minute, and let's make some pasta, shall we?
Blow-Your-Mind Cauliflower Pasta
1 large head cauliflower
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
12 boquerones (vinegar-cured white anchovies), or substitute 10-12 oil-packed anchovies
2 teaspoons Greek Island Spice Blend
1 pound short pasta of choice (I used whole wheat elbows, but pretty much any short pasta will work here)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Add the cauliflower and the peeled garlic to the pot and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower and garlic from the pot and set aside. Discard the garlic. Add the pasta to pot and cook until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, add the extra-virgin olive oil and butter to another large pot over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Mince the anchovies and add them to the onions, along with the Greek Island Spice Blend. Add the cooked cauliflower and stir to combine. Once the pasta is done, use your slotted spoon to add it to the pot with the onions and cauliflower and anchovies. Stir well and add some pasta water a tablespoon at a time to reach your desired sauciness level. Season to taste with some salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, topped with freshly grated parm, if desired.