Creamy Sausage and Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

Here's what you need

1 cup fresh cauliflower, broken into small/medium florets

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pound whole wheat pasta, I used rotini

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the cauliflower in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. 

Cook pasta according to package directions, leaving it a bit al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before straining. 

In a large non-stick saute pan, add a little more olive oil then brown and crumble the sausage. I like to let this go about 10 minutes or so in order to develop really crispy pieces. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. If there is a lot of grease in the bottom of the pan, remove all but a teaspoon or two. In the same pan, melt the butter over low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to create a roux. Allow the roux to cook for a minute or two before slowly whisking in the chicken broth. Bring to a slow boil and cook until just starting to thicken. Add the half and half and parmesan and stir well to combine.

Return the sausage to the sauce along with the spinach, nutmeg, oregano and basil. Stir over low heat until the spinach is wilted. Lastly, toss in the roasted cauliflower, pasta and fresh parsley. Season to taste. Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese, parsley and red pepper flakes as desired.