More From the Leftover Diaries: Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower

Chickpea Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Greens + Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower

Chickpea Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Greens + Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower

It's getting late in the week and as of Wednesday I was still staring at this weekend's roasted romanesco cauliflower. The trials and tribulations of cooking for one and working to make it fun continue. 

Growing up we ate a lot of pasta with a vegetable. Pasta with peas, pasta with broccoli, pasta with spinach,  pasta with zucchini, pasta with cucuzza, pasta with potatoes - my all time double dinner double carb favorite. But one of the the greatest pasta with vegetable loves from my grandmas basement kitchen was her pasta with cauliflower. She wasn't afraid of oil and red pepper. I lived to lick the oil slicked bowl. The bottom of the bowl coated with a film of melted cheese I would pick off with a fork - each little piece containing a bite of heat from the flecks of red pepper that were in each mini bite. 

I found a story I wrote many years ago on my first food blog about this very dish. It was written at a time when I was food blogging to collect old recipes. To write this on the health tip and adapted feels strange and right all at the time same time. Often times people eat the way they do and consume the food they do because tradition and patterns inform those recipes and very ways of eating. That remaking of recipes and eating taught me to also recreate. It taught me how to get myself well with food and think a bit differently. 

Today's pasta with cauliflower got a light makeover, using quite a bit less oil, my favorite pasta alternative Explore Cuisine Organic Chickpea Fusulli, Sweet Italian al fresco chicken sausage, loads of crushed red pepper, lemon zest, breadcrumbs and salty pecorino. 

Why the switch?

For me this is a bit more easily digestible these days. I still enjoy a good bowl of fresh pasta (sorry, nothing from a box for this babe). It's also getting curious about food that's helped maintain my weight loss. Exploring new products, finding different ways to bring flavor to a meal without over doing it with the oil and cheese. This is not my nonna's pasta cauliflower, but it's mine and she inspired it - how freaking fantastic is that? 

The flavor that was once brought by lots of oil, cheese and salt has been replaced with the the al fresco Sweet Italian chicken sausage and a pop of lemon zest for some freshness. Roasting the cauliflower also adds another layer of developed flavor because a roasted veggie always packs more taste than steamed or sauteed. And because I can't have a meal without some super greens, I added some here for bulk to make this the ultimate one pan wonder packing protein, complex carbs, veggie loaded and good fat. 

A great way to use leftover veggies and make a one pan reheat is below. Don't have cauliflower? Don't worry about it. Take any leftover veggie, be it broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, end of week leftover peppers or leafy greens and give them the same treatment. 

And if you wanna find Explore Cuisine Products ($3.50-$3.99 a box) and al fresco gourmet chicken sausages ($3.99-$6.99) look no further than your local super market. Accessible to all folks, you can find both of these products in Stop and Shop. Explore Cuisine products can also be found in Shop Rite and online through Amazon, Insta Cart and Fresh Direct. al fresco gourmet chicken sausages can also be found in most Key Foods, C-Town, Publix and Lowes to name a few more.

Yup, good for you food right in the heart of your supermarket. No need to venture into fancy health food stores to find healthy overpriced options, you can make dinner with in moments close to home.

Get in your kitchen and get inspired to make some new traditions today. 



Chickpea Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Greens + Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower


  • 1 package al fresco gourmet Roasted Garlic, Sweet Italian or Spinach + Feta chicken sausage cut into chunks 
  • 1 box of Explore Cuisine Organic Chickpea Fusilli 
  • 2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • 2-3 T. Italian Seasoned Breadcurmbs
  • 3-4 c. greens *I used spinach, but collards, swiss chard, escarole and all kales are fair game! 
  • 2-3 c. leftover roasted cauliflower florets *can be subbed for broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, additional greens
  • Grated pecorino for topping 


  • Bring 8 c. of water to boil, add salt and add pasta
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 9-11 minutes ... and in the mean time 
  • Heat oil in a large saute pan over a medium flame, add greens and red pepper flakes - sauteing until wilted
  • Add chicken sausage and continue to cook another 5-7 minutes, lowering the flame to a medium low setting
  • Toss in leftover veggies for a quick re-heat 
  • Zest in lemon 
  • Get back to your pasta! Strain and toss into large saute pan
  • Mix errything up real nice
  • Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and give another good toss
  • Serve with a lil mound of pecorino snow!  

Swaps + Notes

  • Wanna go vegetarian? Skip the sausage and pack this with more veggies! Throw in Sunday's roasted spaghetti squash and get really veggie heavy to keep this dish hearty and filling.
  • Wanna make this vegan? Take the above note and skip the pecorino and use a dash of nutritional yeast or crushed toasted walnuts.
tina corradovegetables