How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower. Blanch for two minutes and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain and blot dry. Cover the pot; you’ll use the water again for the pasta. Quarter the cauliflower florets, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt generously. Transfer to a baking sheet, place in the oven and roast 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until tender and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a wide, nonstick frying pan or a 3-quart saucepan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, thyme and salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower and the olives, and simmer a few minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Bring the water back to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until the pasta is al dente, usually about 10 minutes. Drain and toss with the cauliflower-tomato mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and serve at once.
  • Advance preparation: The recipe can be made through step 2 as far ahead as one day. Keep in the refrigerator overnight, or on the stove for a few hours.
  • Note: Cauliflower roasted in this way is delicious as a side dish on its own.

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