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Creamy Picatta Orecchiette over Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

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Vegan Planet: Creamy Picatta Orecchiette over Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Creamy Picatta Orecchiette over Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

The sprightly flavor of picatta sauce has long been a favorite of mine, harkening back to my dark pre-vegan days when as a restaurant chef I sautéed many decidedly nonvegan picatta dishes.  So strong was my affinity to the lemony caper sauce that vegan picatta recipes using seitan or tofu were among the first that I developed after going vegan.

Recently I wondered what could make a picatta sauce even better and the answer was so simple, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before:  make it creamy!

Riffing off the lemon sauce in this recipe, I added the picatta-like notes of capers and white wine and then it occurred to me that it would make an amazing pasta sauce.  I decided on orrechiette since I knew the “little ears” would do a great job of holding the flavorful sauce.  To keep the dish on the light side, slabs of roasted cauliflower served as the base for the sauce-cloaked pasta, resulting in a harmonious symphony of flavors and textures. (I already knew I loved the flavor combo of cauliflower + picatta from this recipe.)

You can serve the creamy sauce over sautéed seitan, tempeh, or tofu, ala classic piccata, or simply serve it over roasted vegetables.  I could even see doubling the sauce and using it for a lemony mac and cheese variation.  But I do hope you’ll try it the way I made it -- tossed with pasta and served over roasted cauliflower -- because I found this combination to be, quite simply, perfection.

Creamy Picatta Orecchiette over Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
1 head cauliflower, cored
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (optional)
1 to 2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
4 scallions, chopped (optional)
Olive oil, for cooking
6 to 8 ounces orecchiette or other bite-sized pasta
Creamy Picatta Sauce:
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned cannelini beans, drained and rinsed if canned
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 cup dry white wine (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon fresh minced basil, parsley, or chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the cauliflower on a cutting board, cored side down and cut it into 1/2-inch slices, as if you were cutting a loaf of bread.
Arrange the cauliflower slices on a lightly oiled baking pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast until tender and nicely browned, about 30 minutes, turning once with a large metal spatula about halfway through. If using tomatoes, mushrooms, and scallions, add them to the roasting pan at this point. While the cauliflower is roasting, cook the pasta and make the sauce.
Add the pasta to a pot of boiling salted water and cook until just tender.  Drain and return to the pot.
Creamy Picatta Sauce:
In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the white beans, wine, broth, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne and blend until very smooth.  Pour the sauce into the pot with the cooked and drained pasta.  Add the capers and basil and toss to combine
To serve, arrange the roasted cauliflower and other vegetables if using on plates and spoon the pasta and sauce on top. Serve hot.

Note: if you don't want to use wine, just use more vegetable broth (in the same amount).

Recipe by Robin Robertson © 2012

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robin, what could i substitute for the wine, this recipe looks amazing
Susan, Just double up on the vegetable broth. (Good point...I'll make that note in the recipe. Thanks.)
This looks so delicious!!! Wish I had the ingredients to make it for dinner!
Thanks Glo. It's definitely worth waiting for until you can get the ingredients in the house.
Hi Robin,

This looks so delicious! I'm avoiding pasta and wondered if you think firm tofu could substitute. Would you use frozen or not?

Thanks so much! I look forward to giving it a try.

Laina :-)
Hi Laina,
Oh yes, this sauce is great with tofu. As I mentioned in the post, you can serve the sauce like a classic piccata over sautéed seitan, tempeh, or tofu. You can also just serve it over the roasted cauliflower or other roasted vegetables. As for how to prepare the tofu, extra-firm, well-pressed regular tofu is best (no need to freeze first, but okay if you prefer it). Cut the tofu either in thin slabs, strips, or a small dice and either saute or bake until cooked and golden brown. Then top with the sauce. Hope you enjoy!
Robin! I love sauce with a lemon side--capers, too! I am always looking for new ways to use up pasta I have in my pantry and I love the little ear pasta. Another great recipe, thank you--always inspiring!
Thanks, Kelly. Sounds like we have similar tastes in ingredients!
Sounds fancy - but fairly easy to make. I'll have to try this one - it looks great!
Right on both counts, Jesse. I hope you like it.
My girlfriend and I made this the other night and it is a winner! The sauce was terrific. My only problem was that the cauliflower slices only held together in the middle of the head where the stalk was. I ended up with a lot of small pieces of cauliflower from the extremes of the head. I think next time I might just break the cauliflower into small florets, roast them and add them to the sauce. We will definitely make this again. I think the sauce could be used in several dishes.
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