Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower (Broccoli), Lemon & Chili Flakes (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Every two weeks, I get a box of mixed veggies from Farm Fresh To You.  I enjoy it because they are locally grown but also because they send me things I have never used before – like this Romanesco Cauliflower (or Romanesco broccoli).   It is striking to look at & almost looks other-worldly.  It has the texture of cauliflower but is described as tasting slightly nutty & earthy.  I found the flavor to be very mild – much like cauliflower – so you can use it any way you would use cauliflower.  I chose this light pasta dish.  I used real cheese in it but that is not necessary.  You can omit it with little loss to overall flavor or use a bit of nutritional yeast or vegan hard cheese – grated.

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Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower (Broccoli), Lemon & Chili Flakes (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2


1-2 heads of Romanesco cauliflower – cut into florets (or one bunch broccoli or head of cauliflower – cut into bite-sized pieces)

1 lemon (zest & juice)

Olive oil

Crushed red pepper to taste (I used a lot – like – 2 TBS – but use it at your own discretion)

1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 lb pasta (cooked)


Cheese (grated Parmesan or other hard cheese or vegan alternative or a TBS or so of nutritional yeast) – quantity totally up to you

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Cook pasta according to directions, drain & set aside.

Meanwhile – boil the Romanesco florets for about 3 minutes.  Scoop out about 1 cup of the hot veggie water & set aside.  Drain & plunge the Romanesco into cold water to stop it from cooking too much.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the crushed red pepper, garlic & lemon zest.  Cook for about a minute & then add the Romanesco.  Heat through.

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Add some cheese & some of the hot veggie water.  Stir to combine.  Season with S&P.  Add more cheese if you like.

Add the pasta & some of the lemon juice.  Stir to combine & then adjust seasonings – maybe adding more cheese (or nutritional yeast) or S&P or lemon or crushed red pepper.

Serve!  Add more cheese if you desire.

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Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back


This is another super easy & healthy one!  I used sweet potatoes but any orange squash would also work.  No dairy in this at all & it still tastes so decadent!  If you own a blender – you can make this in 30 minutes.   The sauce can be used as it is here – over pasta – but if you added a bit more stock or some milk or heavy cream – you would have a delightful soup!  Or – leave it thick & make ravioli.  Or slather some in a white lasagna.  Mmmmm!

I used these fresh (non-vegan) egg noodles I got from an Asian market but any pasta at all works in this.

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Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

Serves 4 well


1 lb pasta (if you use less pasta – see notes above about how to re-purpose the extra sauce)

2 TBS olive oil

1 package or bunch of fresh sage

1 large sweet potato (2 lbs or so – or 3 cups) – peeled & cubed

1 medium onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 TBS (or less – if heat bothers you) crushed red pepper

2 cups vegetable stock


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Cook & drain your pasta – but reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water.  Toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking.  Set aside.

Over medium heat – warm the oil in a large saute pan & fry the sage.   Be careful not to burn it (it should not brown in the pan).  After 2 minutes or so – drain it on papers towels & set aside.

In the same pan, add the onions.  Once softened, add the sweet potato, garlic & crushed red pepper.  Stir for one minute & then add the stock.  Bring to a boil & boil until your sweet potato is soft.

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Being careful not to burn yourself, puree the sweet potato mixture.  Season liberally with S&P (to taste).   Put the noodles in the pan you cooked the sweet potatoes in.  Spoon only as much of the sweet potato puree onto it so you get a light cover.  You don’t want to drown the pasta.  I had a lot of puree left over from the 1/2 pound of pasta I cooked & I will make it into soup (see notes above the recipe).  If it gets too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water – a bit at a time.

Plate the pasta & crumble sage on it.  Garnish with fresh cracked pepper & maybe some grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative).

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Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes (Vegan Option)


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.



That photo is un-retouched & shot in natural light.  So – yes!  That pasta really IS that color!  Pretty to look at but with the delicate flavors of saffron and cauliflower – this is a delightful pasta dish.

I found this great saffron liquid at Super King for $7.


That is a way cheaper option than saffron threads but saffron threads will be easier to find, I suspect.  I actually made this twice because the first time I made it – I made it with whole wheat fusilli & I didn’t like the photos.  This dish above was made with regular linguini.   The first time I made it, I used white wine & ghee (clarified butter).  The second time, I used regular butter & skipped the wine.  I think they tasted pretty much the same so I am going to post the one I made this morning.  There is only a tiny bit of the heavy cream per serving so do not be alarmed.  It isn’t as rich as you might fear.


Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes

INGREDIENTS (for two very healthy servings)

1/2 lb dry pasta or your choice

1 small head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets

2 large shallots – minced

2 tomatoes – diced

2 TBS ghee or butter (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup heavy cream (or vegan alternative – almond milk should work fine)

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

1-2 TBS olive oil

1 generous pinch (1/2 a tsp or more) saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup hot (not boiling) water OR 1 TBS (or more) saffron liquid from a bottle

Crushed red pepper to taste

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste


Steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat & saute the shallots until just soft but not browned.  If using wine – add it now & cook it off for about a minute.  Or just skip ahead.


Add the ghee or butter and the heavy cream & the saffron.  Simmer over medium heat until it reduces by about half.  Add the tomatoes & the steamed cauliflower.

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Add salt & white pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta according to instructions, drain & add directly to the pan with the saffron sauce.  Combine thoroughly.  Serve with lots of crushed red pepper.

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Arugula Bucatini & Spicy Clam Sauce


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

Follow @celisemccarthy


To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


WordPress here hosts my blog.  They offer all sorts of cryptic analyses that are meant to help you discover where your site traffic is coming from & which search terms are effective etc.  I can’t understand most of it beyond knowing that – by a HUGE margin – my most popular recipe (according to Pinterest & the amount of repinning) is my

Decadent Vegan No Carb Summer Pasta with Zucchini Noodles, Avoocado, Asparagus & Peas

which kinda sucks because the photos on that one are kinda lame.  But the other day, a search engine term that allegedly led folks to my blog caught my eye.  It wasn’t pizza or pasta or vegan or even my name.  It was “eating plenty oxtail will make her pussy plump.”  See?   Under “search engine terms?”


Uhm…wtf???  There is no phrase in that sentence that should bring people to MY blog!!!  I don’t think I have ever typed that P word in my blog & I know I – oh wait!  Maybe I used the word oxtail in my vegetarian pho recipe.  Nope.  I just checked.  Anyway – whoever it was that put that phrase in a search engine was very likely disappointed when they we directed to some recipe for quinoa pizza dough or cauliflower mashed potatoes.  Sorry!

As to this spicy clam sauce recipe – couldn’t be easier – couldn’t be more delicious.  You needn’t make homemade bucatini nor homemade pasta of any kind.  Dry pasta would work very well.  The key to this recipe is an overwhelming amount of canned clams.  They give a sauce a ragu quality.

Last July, I attempted to post a variation of this recipe but using fresh clams in their shells.


Those 6 clams there changed my whole view of this recipe.  I added them once the basic white sauce was ready & tried to steam them – in a sea of what was, let’s face it, hundreds of other dead clams. It took them ten fucking minutes to die!  You can tell they are dead because their shells pop open.  If they do not pop open – they were dead when you put them in the pan and they are not fit to eat.  The Holocaust I executed in my sauce that night – steaming these six guys to their deaths as they sat neck-deep in their dead brethren – bummed me out so bad – I couldn’t eat them.  Mussels I had purchased that same day sat until they died in my fridge, untouched & waiting for their steamy deaths.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Then I saw THIS:

And I was finished.

So – while I am not a casual murderer, I AM a total hypocrite in denial & I will still eat these buggers if someone else does the dirty work of murdering them for me.  And, inexplicably, I will still eat raw oysters, too.  Makes little sense – but whatever.

Overloading this dish with canned clams is tasty without requiring a distasteful act – and it is far less costly this way, too.

I bought this huge can of clams at Smart & Final.  My recipe used about half of it.



Arugula Bucatini & Spicy Clam Sauce

Feeds 2 very well


About 1/2- 3/4 lb pasta (or 1/2 to 3/4 of my Arugula bucatini recipe)

1-2 TBS olive oil

6 (or to taste) garlic cloves – minced

3 TBS tomato paste

8-10 small tomatoes – diced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 cup clam water

3 cups canned chopped clams – drained

1 cup fresh parsley – chopped plus more for garnish

S&P to taste



Heat the olive oil & add the garlic.  Stir for a minute then add the rest of the ingredients.  Saute until it thickens a bit.  If it gets to thick – add more clam juice or water.


Cook the pasta as per instructions.

Drain & top with the spicy clam sauce.

Drink yourself stupid in an effort to un-see that clam video.



Spinach & Pea Pesto Linguini with Three Cheeses & the Sheena Metal Experience



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Yesterday – the heat was downright uncivilized.  Well over 100 degrees – ALL DAY.  I have no AC in my house so my three dogs & I walked around with our tongues hanging out while experiencing a sometimes vague and sometimes overwhelming sense of claustrophobic panic.    I had to do an interview at 6pm in the valley which meant driving even deeper into the inferno but my car has AC & I was pretty certain the radio studio would, too, so I was counting the seconds until I could leave.  Around 5pm – I was starving but it was way too hot to try to cook anything & I didn’t have time to eat anyway.  Still – like we all do – I looked in my fridge for things I knew were not in there.  A fridge which, incidentally, required a major repair this week.  My house is beginning to have too many things in common with Grey Gardens in general – a course I am temporarily powerless to reverse – but a fridge that lets a gorgeous burrata sour in the span of a day is just unacceptable.  A girl has to eat!  Even if she has to eat amidst squalor & ruin – much of it caused by bad, bad dogs – she still has to eat.  And cook.  And write about it.  And stuff.  So I called Wilshire Refrigeration – and the repairman arrived in a few hours to break the terrible news to me.  My 15 year old Sub-Zero had a cancer – a leaking freon coil thingamajigga & it had to be cut out.  I was told by my friend that had recommended Wilshire Refrigeration to me – that I was likely to get very timely, competent & friendly service – and I DID – but he also warned me that I would likely walk funny for a few days afterward.  And I can report to you now that a $1000 repair bill DOES somehow feel like an ass rape.  But so does a fridge full of warm beer & rotting dairy, mayo & eggs.  So – $1000 later and after bidding adieu to the repair guy – I walked – like a bowlegged cowboy – back to my kitchen to put everything that was salvageable back into my restored chilling appliance.

But I digress.  At 5 last night – I glanced in my fridge for a snack.  There was nothing that fit the bill but there was a collection of ingredients that I spontaneously decided would whip nicely into a cool pesto that I could mix into pasta upon my return from the interview.  I had 10-15 minutes before I had to leave so – I made the following delightful concoction:



Spinach & Pea Pesto Pasta with Three Cheeses

serves 2 (Use more pasta to feed however many you have.)


4 packed cups fresh spinach
1 packed cup fresh basil
2 cup frozen peas – 1 cup for the pesto – 1 cup for the pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
water – 1/4 cup or more
2 oz goat cheese
2 oz feta cheese
(or 4 oz of either one – Goat or Feta)
Fresh mozzarella (the stuff stored in water) – to taste – diced
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tomato – diced (more if you are feeding more than 2)
fresh parsley – chopped
S&P to taste
1/2 lb dried pasta
In a food processor blend the basil, spinach, garlic, olive oil, s&p, feta, goat cheese, 1 cup of peas – adding only as much water as you need to get the proper consistency.
NOTE – This will make 2-3 cups of this pesto – FAR more than you need for 1/2 lb pasta (which serves 2 – in my opinion).  In fact – it is way more than you need for the whole box of pasta.  So – use the extra on crostinis or as a condiment on sandwiches or as a base to a pizza or for just more pasta.
Cook your pasta according to the directions.  In the last minute or two – add 1 cup of the peas to the water.  Drain.
Put the pasta & cooked peas in a bowl & toss with a few tablespoons of the pesto.  Add more if you think it needs it.  Arrange the pasta on plates & top with a little more pesto, chopped tomato, chopped mozzarella & parsley.  And go heavy with the parsley.  It has a lovely, fresh taste & is not just a garnish!!!  🙂
After I whipped up the pesto – using unthawed frozen peas – I put it in the fridge for a $1000 chilling – and walked my aching ass to the car to head to the valley for my interview.
The radio studio is in Sherman Oaks.  The waiting room looks like this:
Pictures of past guests (like Noah Wyle & Mini Me) lined one wall.  After about 20 minutes of listening to an Irish author be interviewed just before me – I was called in for my part.  Sheena was SUPER duper nice, smart & funny.  The interview went as well as I could hope & I really enjoyed myself – both because of the civilized temperature in there & because of the charm of my hostess.  The entire interview can be heard HERE.  I show up at about the 62 minute mark.
Once that was done, I stepped outside into the smokey dusk (a fire was blazing near the Getty).
No surprise there was a fire as I wasn’t entirely sure I was safe from spontaneous combustion myself.  I got into my car & checked the temperature.
104!!  At 7pm!!!  Ugh.  Still – smog & fires make for pretty sunsets & nice light for photographs.
So – I cranked up the AC in the car & headed home to boil up some pasta & try my newest pesto creation.  And let me tell you – it was REALLY good!  And so easy!  And good for you!  So try it!!!