What's better than a pasta dish that comes together quickly when you're cold and hungry? This one highlights roasted cauliflower and kale, two of my favorite vegetables in the world to turn brown and crispy in the oven. The spice mix I am referring to as za'atar is by no means traditional, but it does contain sumac and sesame seeds, and it was inspired by za'atar. Call it whatever you want; it's great on popcorn, vegetables, chicken, or fish. You can keep extra mix in a small jar on the table when you're feelin' fancy.
(PS: find dried sumac here.)
Mediterranean Chick Peas and Shells
8 oz. small or medium pasta shells
2 cups cauliflower florets and stems, broken into very small pieces
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup chopped kale
5-6 very thin lemon slices, cut into half-moons
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives or marinated artichokes
15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 medium tomato, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Za’atar: 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
Combine all ingredients for the za'atar in a small bowl. Set aside.
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and return to pot.
Heat the oven to 375⁰F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the lemon slices on the sheet, then scatter the cauliflower on top in a single layer (no overlapping). Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and cumin, and roast in the oven until cauliflower begins to brown a bit, about 20 minutes.
To the cooked, drained pasta, add the olives, chick peas, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and half of the za’atar seasoning. Stir to combine and keep warm. When the vegetables are sufficiently roasted, stir those in as well, and serve in individual bowls or plates. Sprinkle more za’atar on top, or let everyone season their own.