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This creamy and delicious pasta gets topped with roasted cauliflower seasoned with za'atar, a Mediterranean spice blend beloved for its big, bold flavors.
Rach's Tip: Store homemade za'atar in a small airtight container for up to 6 months.
- 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
- Olive oil spray or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
- 3 tablespoons Za'atar spice blend, store-bought or see recipe below
- Salt and white pepper or finely ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk or low-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- A little freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (1/16 to ⅛ teaspoon)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 12-16 ounces fettuccine
- ¼ cup ground sumac
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons za'atar leaves (optional)
- 3 tablespoons dried dill
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons dried marjoram or oregano
- 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon granulated onion
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
Preheat oven to 425˚F with rack at center.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, 5-6 quarts.
Place 1 head of cauliflower florets, 2-3 cups, in a bowl and toss with EVOO and za’atar, salt and pepper. Scatter on large, parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender and browned at edges, 25 minutes.
Salt boiling water and cook remaining head of florets, 10-12 minutes, until fork-tender and remove the cauliflower with a spider to transfer to a high-power blender or food processor.
Meanwhile, heat milk, butter and crushed garlic, seasoning the milk with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add hot milk to blender or processor.
Add cheese to cauliflower and hot milk, then puree sauce until very smooth. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Cook fettuccine 1 minute less than package directions in the boiling, salted water, reserving ½ cup starchy water before draining.
Toss pasta with sauce and, if necessary, a splash of pasta cooking water.
Serve pasta in large bowl or individual shallow bowls topped with za’atar-roasted florets.