[Photograph: Blake Royer]

One of my all-time favorite pastas of all time is puttanesca, a tomato-based pasta dish spiced up with red pepper, piquant olives, and capers. When it comes to quick, deeply flavored dishes, it ranks high in my repertoire. So I was excited to try this variation on the dish, from Real Simple, which introduces one of my favorite vegetables of all time into the mix, stretching the recipe into something a little bit healthier.

The key to this recipe is getting as much flavor and color on the cauliflower as possible without overcooking it (this is a general rule for me regarding cauliflower anyway). Since this is a vegetarian version of puttanesca—it doesn't have the nutty base of anchovies melted into olive oil—the cauliflower plays the replacement role. At the beginning, high heat is your friend. Once that flavor is built into the dish, the rest is easy and comes together in no time.

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Cauliflower Puttanesca »

About the author: Blake Royer is a food writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in Chicago; he has been writing for Serious Eats since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter @blakeroyer.

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