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How Do I Make This Worth My While?

I have the best next-door neighbors in the world. They’ve been doing all my food shopping for me. Sometimes, in return, I cook for them – but really, not that much. I was feeling pretty guilty about this; so today, I arrived at Trader Joe’s at 8:00, when they open an hour early for old people like me. There was already a long line outside. Honestly, I had no idea there were even this many senior citizens in my whole town. And then it started raining. After FORTY minutes, it was finally my turn! I was determined not to waste this opportunity – because God knows, I’m not going back there for a while.

Trader Joe’s sells this really great red lentil penne pasta, so I bought six bags of the stuff (no, I’m not unconscionably selfish – there were still many bags left, I swear, and this was my chance). One of my favorite uses for this pasta is with garlicky roasted cauliflower, so let me share it with you:


Red Lentil Penne with Roasted Cauliflower



  • 1 package red lentil (or other) pasta
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into smallish florets
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼-1 can anchovies (flat or rolled)
  • 1 handful of fresh spinach leaves (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon or so of the oil into a baking pan. Add the florets and toss to cover.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, and then turn over the florets. Bake another 5-15 minutes, depending on their size, until the florets are tender and at least a little browned.
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain.
  • While you’re doing that, in a separate small pot or pan, make the pasta sauce:
    • Cook the remaining olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and anchovies over low-medium heat until the anchovies are softened and the garlic is at least softened (but not brown – burnt garlic is disgusting).
  • When everything is done, put the pasta in a large bowl, toss with the sauce, and top with cauliflower and spinach.

This dish is also fabulous with cooked fish or shrimp.

Lesson of the day: If you go to Trader Joe’s in the near future, bring a book.