Turmeric Pasta with a Roasted Cauliflower-Lentil Ragu

Must pasta insist we default to basil and oregano when seasoning the accompanying sauce? Does Indian cuisine demand we pay homage to  proteins with basmati rice, potatoes or Naan?

Break free the chains! Particularly now since Al Dente’s latest line of Piccola Pastas have hit market shelves to switch things up.

My last post, Pastazanella, was  inspired by local tomatoes and Al Dente’s new Bonneti Pasta. The duo created a tantalizing riff on a classic Panzanella substituting  pasta for bread.

Lentils are substituted for grinds in this not-so-typical Ragu.

Today’s blog substitutes their new Turmeric Pinchetti Pasta for the starches used in traditional Indian food. I substituted, as well, lentils for the expected meaty grinds typically used in classic Italian ragus.

The switch-a-roos make for a lovely October plate–– especially nice when we want to warm up to the heat and spice of sub-continent food and use cauliflower in the peak of  her crowning glory.

The recipe accommodates six healthy appetites––leftovers always a bonus.

I can’t sign off without alerting those interested that my publisher slashed the price of THE PROMISE KITCHEN to only $6.99 through October.

It may be a good way to share your love ~not to mention cross an early gift off the list~ with great food fiction accompanied by a slew of well-tested recipes.

“… what a story! You will WANT to read this.”

[Five Stars, Goodreads]

Recipe: Turmeric Pasta with a Roasted Cauliflower-Lentil Ragu


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 (28-0unce can) whole Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1-2 cups vegetable, chicken stock or water
  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
  • 4 cups Al Dente Turmeric Pasta


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in ginger, garlic, curry, cumin and coriander and continue cooking an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir tomatoes into seasoned onions; break up tomatoes with a fork. Simmer tomatoes an additional minute and then stir in lentils.
  4. Cook lentils in sauce until tender, about 35-45 minutes, stirring in 1/2 cup stock or water as needed to insure lentils don’t stick to pan, as you would do when making a risotto.
  5. While lentils are simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Toss cauliflower florets with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Roast cauliflower on middle-rack of oven 6-8 minutes or until florets are tender and golden brown. When lentils are tender, stir roasted cauliflower into the pan. For extra richness, if desired, stir ghee or butter into ragu. Season with cilantro and pepper flakes.
  7. Boil pasta for five minutes, according to package instructions, and drain. Serve with Lentil-Roasted Cauliflower Ragu.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: apx, 40 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 6-8 (leftover ragu keeps, refrigerated, several days

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Pasta Salad Preview: Pastazanella (First in a 3-part series)

Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber Salad)

Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber-Bread Salad)

You’ve heard of panzanella, right? That oh so delicious  salad celebrating tomatoes when they’re bursting on the vines–even more handy to have in your recipe repertoire  when you’ve a loaf of slightly stale Artisan bread that’s begging to be utilized? But what about Pastazanella?

I just made a big batch, and I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of that. Pastazanella is a recipe that has–up until this moment–never been recorded,  a dish even unknown to the ubiquitous  Google-bots. It’s like discovering a new star in the solar system!

These three new small pasta shapes are ideal for entertaining.

Wish I could lay fame to the pasta, as well, but credit goes to Al Dente Pasta, which has a new line of 3 Piccolo Pastas. The Bonnetti (little bonnets) is what I substituted for the bread in my Pastazanella that yields absolutely delicious results.

Cut tomatoes and cucumbers into pieces roughly the size of the “bonnets”.

Traditional panzanella is delish hot off the press. But after it sits around, the bread–even with a prior toasting– gets a bit mushy for my palate. It reminds me of the milk toast  forced down me when I had a tummy ache as a tot. Not so Bonnetti, the perfect choice for Pastazanella after cooking the pasta five minutes to perfection.

Today requests a salad for a family reunion that will serve as a side for smoked chickens, and  thrive under an August sun. The Bonnetti will soak up those yummy tomato juices and the acidity (and lack of mayo)  keeps it “safe” insuring even the weeist of  toddlers won’t suffer.

This new line of Piccola Pasta makes for attractive, toothsome salads that are easy for guests to scoop from the bowl. (So annoying  when  those dangling slivers of fettuccines and spaghettis find their way to the floor, instead of the plate.)

Disclosure: Monique and hubby Denny (the owners of Al Dente) have been friends of mine for decades. We got into the pasta business at the same time. In fact, the EXACT same time–1981. She was rolling out sheets of dough uptown at the same time I was extruding them downtown from a pasta machine the size of a Fiat I purchased from Florence. (That’s Florence, Italy, not Alabama). I can vouch that Al Dente Pasta is a delicate yet toothsome pasta like no other on the market–I use it all the time.

I sold my pasta machine along with my business in 2001 (I needed to sit down) and started writing about food–making up characters who were  having even crazier times in the food business than myself. Besides. I was not nearly as successful as the Al Dente folks, whose pastas can be found in groceries and markets across the planet. An additional disclosure– I don’t get paid for writing  food endorsements  I don’t even allow ads and those annoying pop-ups to come near these pages. I just like writing about good food and the good people who enjoy eating it.

Note: After reading this blog my son said a better name for this recipe would be Paztenella. Alas. I just checked and Google  laid stakes into Pastazenella, claiming it as her own.

Have a safe and joyous Labor Day!       Peggy

Recipe: Pastazanella


  • 3 cups (uncooked) Al Dente Bonnetti Pasta
  •  2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1  teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 3 heaping cups of 1/2-inch pieces ripe tomato (1-2 large tomatoes)
  • 2 cups of 1/2-inch pieces seeded cucumber (1 cucumber)
  • 1 (packed) cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, as desired
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as desired
  • 2 tablespoon capers


  1. In rapidly boiling, salted water, cook pasta for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. Whisk remaining olive oil, vinegar and garlic together.
  3. Toss pasta into vinaigrette and stir in tomato, cucumbers, basil and onion. Season to taste with Parmesan, salt and pepper. Let pasta salad sit 30 minutes, or so, for the flavors to combine. Sprinkle capers over top before serving.

Cooking & Prep time: 30 minutes (plus time to let the pasta sit)

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 servings (8 packed cups)

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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My Secret Weapon Flavor Bomb for Savory, Summery Vinaigrettes

Last night we had friends over for a Fourth of July warm-up dinner party. The hyper-local menu–Grilled Sumac Lamb Chops, Cherry Couscous Salad and Asparagus–was created with the bulk of ingredients sourced in a one-mile radius; easy to pull off at this time of the year in the orchards and farmlands of Northern Michigan.

Concentrated cherry juice processed from cherries up the road lends the acidity and sweet to this versatile vinaigrette.

The day before yesterday, I marinated lamb chops 24 hours (refrigerated) in a mixture of whole milk, plain yogurt, garlic, ground sumac and cinnamon. (I’ll post the recipe after re-proof.)

Then, I made a couscous salad and am particularly excited about the impromptu vinaigrette, which was simply delicious.  My secret weapon was cherry juice concentrate. With the acidity and sweet of fresh ripe cherries, it was a flavor bomb  in this salad. (Recipe below.)

This vinaigrette would be marvelous in any grain or leafy green salad or a lovely marinade for fowl, pork or lamb.  Oh my. This little vinaigrette is an absolute gem.

Fresh Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini

Fresh Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini

You don’t have to live in the middle of a cherry orchard–grocery stores across the world carry cherry juice concentrates.  Here’s a link to King Orchards, if interested, to purchase the exact concentrate I use. (And no. Uncle Jim and Aunt Sue aren’t the owners and, as always, I receive no compensations for my posts and recommendations on this site, which remains blissfully “ad-free”.)

The Fourth of July Grill

The Fourth of July Grill

In the spirit of the season, here are some more cherry-inspired blogs from seasons past to whet your whistle, many of which are perfect for the celebratory Fourth:

Fresh Cherry Goat Cheese CrostiniCherry GazpachoSmoked Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce.


Explosively Delicious Recipes

Have a happy and safe Fourth, my friends! Some more non-cherry inspired ideas for the holidays: Firecracker Shrimp Firecracker Flank Steak with Margarita FlavorsFourth of July Sheet Cake.

Recipe: Fresh Cherry Couscous Salad


  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated cherry juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup nut oil, such as pistachio, walnut or peanut
  • 1 1/4 cups dry (uncooked) couscous
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup quartered fresh pitted cherries (or 1/2 cup dried cherries)
  • 1 cup quartered fresh pitted apricots (or 1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced)
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint


  1. Soak shallot in cherry concentrate and orange juice ten minutes. Make a dressing by whisking oil into shallot/juice mixture.
  2. Cook couscous according to package instructions. (I used chicken stock instead of salted water.)
  3. Toss dressing into warm couscous. Season to taste with kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne. Toss cherries and apricots into salad. (May be made, at this point, up to 24 hours in advance.)
  4. Before serving, stir in pistachios and mint.

Total time: 25 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 SERVINGS

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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