Traditionally made by rolling strips of pasta dough around a buso (a thick knitting needle often used for wool and cotton), busiate pasta is a staple in many Sicilian kitchens. Its tight, curly shape makes it perfect for sauces of all kinds, from a classic tomato sauce to pesto.
Here, Rustichella d'Abruzzo's organic timilia busiate is paired with a bright, herbaceous parsley and oregano pesto, caramelized cauliflower and creamy, briny feta. The pesto is made with a few tablespoons of Soom Sesame Premium Tahini instead of pine nuts or almonds, giving the sauce an extra luscious texture and toasty flavor that complements the subtle earthiness of the timilia wheat pasta.
Recipe, food styling and photography by Asha Loupy; first published Feb. 13, 2020.
To make the pesto, add the parsley, one cup of extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon zest and juice, garlic, Sicilian oregano and one teaspoon of salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7-9 minutes, if using Rustichella d'Abruzzo Organic Timilia Busiate (cook according to the package directions if using another pasta).
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, prepare the shallots and cauliflower. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium high. Add the shallots and stir to coat in the olive oil. Season with a half teaspoon of salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the shallot start to soften, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the cauliflower, season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and black pepper, and stir to combine. Arrange the cauliflower in an even layer on the bottom of the pan and let cook undisturbed for 3 minutes (this will allow the cauliflower and shallots to start to caramelize and brown). Continue to cook the cauliflower, stirring every 3 minutes or so, until it is soft and most of the pieces are golden brown, about 6-9 minutes more. If the shallots start to brown too fast, reduce the heat to medium. When the cauliflower is cooked through and caramelized, reduce the heat to low and keep warm until the pasta is cooked.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water. Turn off the heat under the cauliflower and shallot mixture and add the pasta, three-quarters of the pesto and toss to coat. Add more pesto as needed, if the sauce is too thick, add one tablespoon of pasta water at a time until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Add half the feta and gently toss to combine. Transfer the pasta to a large platter or bowl and garnish with the remaining feta and a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes, if using.