~ Oven-roasted cauliflower and broccoli make this easy pasta recipe deeply flavorful. Parmesan cheese, garlic and bright lemon juice are all you really need to round out the salty-umami-tangy symphony of tastes. It’s deceptively simple … just a few ingredients that add up to surprisingly big, big flavors! Plus, with all those roasted veggies, it’s a meal-in-one with no vegetable side dish needed – perfect for busy nights! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Includes Make-Ahead Steps • Vegetarian (see note) •
We’re solving a couple dinnertime struggles all at once today, with one simple pasta recipe that packs way more flavor than you’d ever guess when you first peek at the ingredient list.
Trust me – success will be yours!
But what struggles are we talking about here?
Are you trying to find ways to work more veggies into your family’s meals? Seems like everyone is. And it’s not always easy, is it?
Sure, you find time to throw together the main dish (pat yourself on the back … that’s a win already!). But having enough time left over to make some vegetable side dishes, too? Sometimes that’s just more than your schedule can handle, right?
Plus, veggies are often the toughest sell. Oh, the struggle … kids and veggies. I think all parents feel that pain.
This easy little pasta recipe holds the solutions we’re seeking!
Let’s break it down …
Solution #1: Oodles of Veggies … 16 Cups of Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli!
No kidding! This recipe starts off with 16 whopping cups of broccoli and cauliflower.
They roast down to be a bit more compact after cooking, but no matter how you measure it, that’s a whoooooole lotta roasted vegetable nutrition.
Sure, you can add a side salad (because when it comes to veggies, more is always a good thing!), but you really don’t even need to. This Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta recipe is a meal-in-one!
Get dinner DONE and get on with the night!
Solution #2: Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower (Roasting = YUM!)
Roasting veggies is a magical thing. (Remember our über-popular recipe for roasted green beans?)
No doubt – roasting is one of my all-time, very most favorite ways to cook veggies.
Why? Because of the caramelization that happens as those nice little roasty brown spots develop in the oven. It equals big, delicious flavor, transforming your vegetables into something altogether more complex and delicious than where those humble veggies began.
Magic. Roasted cauliflower and broccoli magic.
I’ve seen the magic wand success (again and again!) right before my very own eyes.
If I’m roasting asparagus, for example, one big bunch is not nearly enough as a side dish for the four of us – I always buy two bunches, and usually we easily polish it all off. Ditto roasted cauliflower and broccoli, green beans, redskin potatoes … you name it.
It’s shocking how many veggies go down the hatch when they’re roasted!
My biggest proof of all? Proof that roasted vegetables truly are a pathway to sneaking MORE veggies into your family’s diet? My veggie-averse Amy. Honestly, the poor kid hates that we say this about her, because she tries so, so hard to like vegetables … and she’s come a really long way over the years (for more tips on this, check out our articles on raising picky eaters). Still, it’s a struggle.
But what I’ve noticed is that roasting practically any vegetable pretty much guarantees slam-dunk success – even with Amy! When I watch how many roasted vegetables she devours, and how much she actually likes them … well, I know roasting is a real winner of a technique. I’ve lived it! (Yay … chalk up a mommy win!)
The first time I made this pasta recipe a couple of years ago, I basically threw it together on a whim, grabbing what was in the fridge and adjusting the flavors as I went along.
It was an immediate, surprisingly overwhelming hit! And now it’s another of those dinners that my family is truly thrilled to see heading for the dinner table … little cheers for a meal they never seem to get tired of eating.
Do they realize how much nutrition is jam-crammed in there, with all those veggies and the whole wheat pasta? Nah … never occurs to them. They’re munching away too happily to care.
They just know it tastes awesome!
Which is another surprise, really.
This pasta recipe feels so simple, with just a few basic ingredients. But it’s deceptive … the bright tang of lemon, the salty-umami notes from the parmesan, the little hit of garlic … they all combine perfectly with the deep flavors of the roasted cauliflower and broccoli.
So much flavor, so simply! Perfectly quick and easy. Just right for busy weeknights!
Bonus: it’s meat-free and great for Meatless Mondays, too!
Shortcut Tips for Our Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta
To get this dinner on the table in 30 minutes, we recommend snagging the handy bags of pre-cut cauliflower and broccoli florets you can find in the produce sections of most grocery stores. If some florets are still a bit large, it takes just a couple of minutes to get them into evenly-sized pieces so they all roast at the same time.
That little shortcut takes your prep time for this recipe to practically nothing!
But, if you prefer buying whole heads of cauliflower and broccoli, you can still save valuable minutes at the busy dinner hour.
Just cut up your broccoli and cauliflower in advance, maybe on the weekend when you have a little extra time. They’ll keep nicely in the fridge for several days, ready when you are! (Psssst … one terrific upside to buying whole heads of broccoli and cutting it yourself … you have those great stalks left over to make Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Stalks! Yum!)
You can also juice your lemon and mince the garlic earlier in the day or the night before, too.
Time savings galore!
And trust me … your family will gobble their veggies up in no time!
I’ve seen the magic, and its name is roasting!
Talk about success and solving problems … this pasta recipe has got your back! Now if only it could help my kiddos with solving their pre-calc problems … 😉
- 8 cups broccoli florets (see note)
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 8 cups cauliflower florets (see note)
- 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
- 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (see note)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
Preheat oven to 475º F, and bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, making sure the oil and seasonings are evenly distributed. (If you prefer, you can toss the ingredients together in a bowl and then dump the broccoli mixture out onto the baking sheet.) On a second parchment-lined baking sheet, repeat the process with the cauliflower florets, tossing them with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Make sure the vegetables are spread out evenly on the baking sheets, and not heaped on top of each other, so they roast properly rather than steaming.
Place cauliflower in the oven and roast for 5 minutes; then add broccoli to the oven. Roast for 5 minutes more, and then stir both cauliflower and broccoli and rotate sheet pans to promote even roasting. Continue roasting for about 10 more minutes (20 minutes total for cauliflower and 15 minutes total for broccoli), until the vegetables have developed some gorgeous roasted brown spots. Remove from oven and set briefly aside, keeping warm.
Meanwhile, as vegetables roast, cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, carefully reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
In a large serving bowl, toss the roasted vegetables with the cooked pasta. Sprinkle the parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly over the pasta mixture, stirring as you do so to make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the pasta and not concentrated in one spot. Loosen as desired with reserved pasta cooking water (we usually use about 1/2 - 3/4 cup). Taste and adjust the pasta water, lemon juice and salt as needed. Serve immediately.
Broccoli and cauliflower florets: To get this recipe on the table in 30 easy minutes, we suggest purchasing the pre-cut florets that you can now find in most grocery stores. (You may need to trim a few bigger florets to make sure they're all roughly the same size, which promotes even roasting.) However, if you prefer to buy whole heads of broccoli and cauliflower at the store or farm market, you'll need about 6 average stalks of broccoli and about 1 medium-large head of cauliflower to yield the 8 cups of each type of vegetable that you need for this recipe. Just add a few extra minutes onto the prep time (or see make-ahead tips below).
Parmesan Cheese: To make this pasta recipe truly vegetarian, be sure to select a parmesan cheese made with non-traditional enzyme alternatives from microbes or fermentation, rather than the traditional rennet.
Make-ahead steps: Even if you don't purchase pre-cut veggies, and prefer to purchase whole heads of cauliflower and broccoli, you can still take advantage of another make-ahead option: cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets in advance when you have a little extra time. Store them in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container or plastic bag, and they should keep nicely for a few days. In addition, you can juice the lemon and mince the garlic a few hours ahead or the night before, and store them, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator.