cauliflower & sumac linguine with hazelnuts

this dish is the result of my efforts to use a bottle of white balsamic that i bought, in something other than salad dressings. white balsamic vinegar is similar to its darker coloured sibling but has a slightly milder flavour with quite a lot of sweetness – it’s ideal for creating a subtle sweet and sour contrast.

having said i wanted to use it in something other than a salad dressing here it is actually a dressing for the pasta dish, as there is no sauce other than that created by the white balsamic along with some browned butter and a little of the pasta cooking water. the rest of the flavours – cauliflower roasted until it has softened and started to brown in places, so that the flavour intensifies, crunchy toasted hazelnuts, crispy capers (i added these after i took the photo – sorry!) plus a spice combination of sumac and fresh nutmeg – are an unusual combination but one that works really well, i think.

the recipe is based on one from the sprouted kitchen book, but with a number of changes – see here for the original. 

cauliflower & sumac linguine with hazelnuts (serves 2)

1 small cauliflower, central stem removed and cut into bite-size florets

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon sumac

½ a teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon capers

pasta for two – i used linguine; use a slightly smaller portion that you would normally as the cauliflower adds a lot of bulk

25g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

handful of fresh basil leaves, cut into thin slices

preheat the oven to 220c. on a baking tray, mix the cauliflower pieces with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the sumac and nutmeg, a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. roast for c20 mins, stirring halfway through – the cauliflower should be cooked through with lots of brown caramelised patches.

heat a small pan and fry the hazelnuts in it until they start to brown and you can smell their toastness. set the nuts aside and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over quite a high heat. add the capers and cook for 2-3 minutes until they are crispy. remove from the oil and leave to drain on a piece of kitchen oil.

cook your pasta.

when the pasta and cauliflower are nearly ready, in a large clean pan, melt the butter until it starts to brown – this will take a couple of  minutes. remove from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of the pasta water. add the roasted cauliflower, the capers, most of the hazelnuts and half the basil. stir then add the drained pasta. serve garnished with the remaining hazelnuts and basil plus parmesan or pecorino cheese.