Pasta con ceci (and white beans)

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

A one-pot, healthy, vegan optional pasta dinner full of beans and veggies that comes together in less than 30 minutes? Oh, and it’s made with things you likely have in your pantry right now (or could easily get on the cheap)? Yes and yes.

Take me to the recipe!

This dish started with Victoria Granoff’s wonderful Pasta con ceci from Food52. It’s easy, fast, inexpensive, and shockingly complex considering the petite ingredient list and short cooking time.

However, that quick cook left the chickpeas a little too raw, in my opinion. And while I love a healthy fat, the original recipe calls for lots of olive oil and I wanted to lighten it up a bit. I suspect that the larger amount of oil masks the chickpea taste a bit, but I like the idea of replacing fat with fiber and not the other way around.

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

I tried to swap in white beans for the chickpeas entirely, but they cooked down too much. Half and half white beans and chickpeas, though, proved the winning combination: Some bite from the chickpeas and some creaminess from the white beans marries perfectly.

Use whole wheat pasta and throw in some julienned kale at the end and you have a rounded, healthy dish full of fiber and protein.

Even M, who’s been in an extended picky phase, gobbled this up and we didn’t even need to put other “safe’ foods on the table.

All that to say, MAKE THIS FOR DINNER TONIGHT!

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes


Pasta con Ceci (and white beans)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/3 cup tomato paste
1½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed  
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1½ cup uncooked orecchiete pasta (or another small shape)
3½ cups stock or water
1 parmesan rind (optional)
½ bushel Tuscan (also called Lacinto or Dinosaur) kale, julienned (about 1½-2 cups) 

For serving: red pepper flakes, more parmesan,

Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium-low flame, until hot, but not crackling.

Add the smashed garlic (it should sizzle in the pan right away) and cook until it’s deeply tanned, but not dark brown. Adjust the temperature as needed to avoid burning.

Add the tomato paste. It should also sizzle when it hits the pan. If not, increase the temperature. Cook, stirring and hearing the sizzle, for 30 seconds to a minute.

Add the white beans, pasta, water or stock, and salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese rind, if using. Let simmer uncovered (you should have a decent simmer going and see bubbles popping throughout the cooking. If not, increase the temperature) for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking and the pasta is cooked.

Turn off the heat and toss in your kale. Stir a few times to let the residual heat wilt the greens.

Serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Pasta con ceci (and white beans) | Me & the Moose. This one-pot, 30-minute, vegan-optional meal is healthy, simple, cheap, and uses pantry staples that you likely already have. #meandthemoose #healthydinnerrecipes #30minutemeals #pastarecipes #veganrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte

Don’t be intimidated by the “en cocotte” portion of the title. It’s just French for “cooked in a covered pot that you can also use for serving.” An alternative translation is: How to cook a really good turkey breast the lazy way; no overnight brine, no basting, nothing.

Take me to the recipe!

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte
Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte

A quick note before we talk about the ins and out of this recipe: Anyone who knows me, understands how very much I hate the word “moist.” (I refer to is as “the ‘M’ word.”) Even saying it in my head feels wrong. I’m not alone here, I know, but I do feel that I have a particularly strong reaction, which made my search for the easiest turkey cooking method particularly grueling. Because it’s damn near impossible to read a blog post, watch a video, or see a cooking show about poultry without people shouting it from the rooftops.

But figuring out this recipe made it all worth it! And I promise you, this is the easiest route to not-dry turkey.

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte
Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotteLemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte
Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte

I first learned about cooking “en cocotte” from an episode of Cook’s Country. They made “French Chicken in a Pot” and I wanted to try it with turkey. I’ve also wanted to make a version of the famous Greek Avgolemono Soup, which is broth thickened with a cooked grains and egg yolks, but soup isn’t always psychologically satisfying as a meal, you know?

Instead, I used the broth and egg yolks to thicken the grains instead of the other way around.

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte
Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte
Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte

A couple of cooking notes:

  • After roasting the turkey, there should be about 1/4 of an inch of liquid at the bottom of the Dutch oven. If there isn’t, add another 1/4 cup of stock before cooking the couscous.

  • The only extra step in this recipe is to blend together some broth, egg yolks, and lemon juice to add to the cooked couscous. I really recommend using a blender EVEN THOUGH it’ll dirty another appliance. If you don’t get a really good emulsion of the liquids, you can end up with scrambled eggs rather than a rich, thick sauce over your couscous.

  • The oven temperature (275!) will seem very low and it is. But the Dutch Oven with a lid and an extra layer of foil really seals in the heat and moisture and cooks the turkey despite the low oven temperature. Our oven runs very hot, so I actually set it 10 degree lower.

  • The only downside to this cooking method is that the steam softens the turkey skin. If you like crispy skin, just strip it off and seer it on a really hot skillet to crisp it back up.

  • I love serving this with a quick tzatziki sauce.

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte

1 bone-in turkey breast, about 2 ½ lbs
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small onion (or ½ of a large onion), chopped
4-5 extra large garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped 
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
4 cups low sodium chicken stock or water, divided
3 cups Israeli couscous  
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 large lemons)

Preheat the oven to 275.

In a large Dutch oven or oven safe pot with a lid, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Seer the turkey breast on the top, bottom, and both sides, adjusting the heat if the turkey browns too quickly or if the oil starts to spit uncomfortably. When browned all over (this should take about 10 minutes), remove to a plate.

Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the same Dutch oven and heat over a medium low flame for a few seconds. Saute the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the rosemary, smoked paprika, and salt. Cook for 1 minute more until fragrant.

Turn off the heat.

Add the turkey back to the pan. Cover the top of the Dutch oven tightly with a large piece of tin foil and then top with the lid.

Bake for 1 hour. Check the internal temperature of the turkey with a thermometer in the thickest part. When the thermometer reads 165, the turkey is done. If the turkey isn’t up to temperature yet, return it to the oven and check it every 5-10 minutes to avoid overcooking.

While the turkey is cooking, blend together 1 cup of chicken stock, 2 egg yolks, and 1/3 cup of lemon juice. Set aside.

When the turkey is done, remove the Dutch oven and carefully take off the tin foil from its top (watch the steam!). Remove the turkey to a plate or cutting board and cover tightly with the tin foil. Let rest.

Add 3 cups of stock to the turkey cooking juices in the Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add the couscous, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all of the stock. (Check after 4 minutes to make sure the couscous isn’t cooking too fast or sticking too much. If it is, turn down the heat.)

When the liquid is absorbed, add the broth/ egg yolk/ lemon juice combination. Stir it into the couscous and bring the mixture back to a boil. Once it boils, turn off the heat and stir a few more times.

Slice the turkey and serve with the couscous.

Yield: 5-6 large servings

Lemon and rosemary turkey and couscous en cocotte | Me & The Moose. This one-pot (ish) meal has a low and slow cooking time, but is mostly hands-off and a much faster way to make delicious turkey breast without brining or drying out the meat. #turkeyrecipe #roastturkey #onepotmeal #avgolemono #israelicouscous #dinner #easydinner #healthydinner #encocotte

Sheet pan dinner: Sausage and purple cabbage

Sheet pan dinners are the easiest way to get dinner on (and off) the table. Purple cabbage, potatoes, and chicken or turkey sausage combine for a universally appealing dinner. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #potatoes #sausage #Oktoberfest

Is there anything better than October? Everyone has settled into new routines, the weather is (generally) cooler, the leaf peeping and apple picking are in full swing, and it’s finally acceptable to buy enormous bags of candy and maintain the fiction that they’ll last until October 30th.

KIDDING! I would never pretend that that candy is making it to the end of the month.

Thick cuts of cabbage lead to crispy edges and softer interiors. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #potatoes #sausage #Oktoberfest
Purple cabbage is magical. Look at that purple! #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #potatoes #sausage #Oktoberfest

But really, we are trying to maintain a modicum of healthy eating now that we’re super busy again with school and activities and the faster pace of non-summer months. That’s where sheet pan dinners like this one come in handy.

Dijonnaise is a simple combo of dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and magic. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #potatoes #sausage #Oktoberfest
Sheet pan dinners are the best and easiest way to get dinner on the table and cleanup done quickly. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #sausage #potatoes #Oktoberfest

The combination of sausage, cabbage, and potatoes with a mustard-y sauce feels very Oktoberfest, which is obviously on-brand for this month.

Also, I haven’t yet found a vegetable that wasn’t made more delicious by roasting and purple cabbage and potatoes may be among my favorites. Find the smallest potatoes you can, or halve anything larger then a golf ball.

Roasting at high heat with plenty of olive oil and salt leads to a delicious, quick dinner. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #potatoes #sausage #Oktoberfest

If you leave off any bread on the side and check your labels for the sausage, this dish is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and Whole 30 compliant.

A quick note about the sausage here: We always pre-cooked sausage. The timing gets tricky when starting with raw sausage and the chicken/turkey varieties are usually pre-cooked anyway.

SPD: German red cabbage, potatoes, and sausage

1/2 small head red cabbage, ¾ inch thick slices
1 lb small potatoes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 lb pre-cooked turkey or chicken sausage (we use Wellshire Farms turkey kielbasa)

Dijonnaise

2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

 

Heat oven to 425.

Thickly slice the cabbage into ¾ inch thick steaks. Spread out on your baking sheet along with the small potatoes. Brush or spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Cook for 20 minutes or until the cabbage starts to singe in the sides.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and tuck the sausage in with the potatoes and cabbage. I have cooked the sausage from frozen and when already defrosted, and it takes about the same amount of time.

If desired, smash the potatoes slightly with the bottom of a mug or measuring cup and spray or brush on more olive oil for a crispier, crunchier potato.

Return to the oven and cook for 10 more minutes or until the centers of the cabbage steaks are fork tender.

Yield: dinner for 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children (with possibly some leftovers depending on how much your kids actually eat.)

Sheet pan dinners are the fastest, easiest way to get dinner on the table and clean up done quickly. #meandthemoose #sheetpandinner #purplecabbage #sausage #potatoes #Oktoberfest

Zucchini and summer squash frittata

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Whelp, I'm laid up in bed due to my lower back's semiannual revolt against the rest of my body. Luckily, I've made a bunch of these easy and quick frittatas and the leftovers are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. Or eaten with your hands while watching The Great British Baking Show from the floor.

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I started making these because it's summer squash season, which means that markets and backyard gardens are flooded with zucchini and yellow squash. There are recipes for galettes and gratins galore and I'm sure they're all delicious. But I wanted something easier and lighter. 

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And what's easier than a frittata? They require one pan and come together so fast. I love adding a salty, garlicky, crunchy kick on top with the combination of panko, minced garlic, Parmesan, and sea salt.

I also like to leave the squash in fairly large chunks because otherwise the vegetables disappear into mush. If your kiddos will more likely eat something with less visible squash, feel free to use thinner slices or even to spiralize the veggies.

I find that the crunch on top often distracts from the fact that this frittata is vegetable laden. To that end, you really have to use panko or gluten-free panko to achieve that crunch. Regular breadcrumbs won't do the trick.

Serve this with ANY pesto from the archives!

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Zucchini and summer squash frittata

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ -2 lbs zucchini and summer squash, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
8 large eggs
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Gouda
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan
2 large garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over a medium flame and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and fragrant.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs in the bowl and mix until the whites and yolks are well combined. Add the squash, the shredded Gruyere or Gouda, and a large pinch of salt and stir to combine. Pour into the pan with the hot onions and stir again to combine.

Cook the eggs and squash, undisturbed (no more stirring!), on the stove top for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the eggs begin to set.

Meanwhile, combine the panko, garlic, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. When you're ready to put the frittata in the oven, top pour the panko mixture evenly over the top. 

Put in the oven and bake, uncovered, until there is no jiggle left in the eggs, or about 15-20 minutes. If the panko topping browns too quickly, cover it loosely with tin foil until the eggs are cooked.

Yield: 6-8 servings, depending on what meal you're eating this for and what you're having with it.

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Chicken meatball and cauliflower rice banh mi bowl

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So, this is technically a recipe for a banh mi bowl, but the components can be customized in zillions of ways. The chicken meatballs can go in any direction, as can the cauliflower rice.

But first, banh mi. It's technically a Vietnamese sandwich with pickled carrots and daikon radishes, cucumbers, cilantro, a spicy mayonnaise, some sort of pate or liverwurst, and another cooked meat. Availability of great Banh mi is the one thing I miss about living in Brooklyn where we used to order these sandwiches at least once a week. That's also possibly why I gained a lot of weight when we lived there.

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Now when a craving strikes, I like to incorporate banh mi flavors in a cauliflower rice bowl. 

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I have mixed feelings about carb and starch substitutes. Unless whatever you're eating with the cauliflower rice is really flavorful, I don't think it passes for regular rice. However, while not really rice, I love this cauliflower on its own merits. It's really simple: sauteed onions, garlic, and salt are all you need. M even eats it and he is a traditional rice devotee.

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Now, the meatballs. I have experimented A LOT with chicken meatballs. As a perfectionist, I really really want them to be round. I've gone down the rabbit hole of meatball-making tips and so far, none of them have been entirely successful. I've tried adding more and less filler, more and less liquid, more and less fat, cooking directly in a sauce, roasting, sauteing, and chilling in various ways. The most successful tip I can offer from my trials and tribulations is that making them very very small is the key to quick cooking and maintaining a round shape. So if you care about roundness in your meatballs, use 1 teaspoon or less per ball.

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A couple of other notes:
- I've found that cheese is a better agent for adding moisture than milk because it doesn't make the mixture too slack. But while there is cheese in these balls, they don't taste cheesy at all, which makes the flavor more adaptable.
- I encourage you not to overcook these. Since there isn't a lot of fat or filler in these balls, they can dry out if left on the heat for too long. Using a meat thermometer is your best bet for cooking things fully, but not overdoing it.
-Speaking of cooking, I equally like roasting and sauteing these balls. I don't find that it makes a difference in the taste, texture, or shape of the final product. However, it's currently summer here on the east coast of the USA and hot as hell, so I don't always have it in me to turn on the oven. Either cooking method is great, so do what feels best (and least sweaty) for you.

 

Chicken meatball and cauliflower rice banh mi bowl 

Chicken meatballs
1 lb ground chicken
¾ cup panko
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp full-fat ricotta (optional, as it may make the meatballs flatten slightly, but adds more moisture)
1 egg
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

If roasting, preheat the oven to 425.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix minimally with a spoon, spatula, or your hands, just until the ingredients are incorporated.

If sautéing the meatballs, add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and heat over a medium-low flame. 

Using wet hands, scoop out between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture and roll into a ball. Add to a baking dish or the hot pan.   

If sauteing: Over medium-high flame, brown on one side and then turn the meatballs over to brown on the other side (about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on the size of your meatballs). Turn the flame to low and cover the pan. Cook until a thermometer inserted reaches 165 degrees or the meatballs are firm when you press on them and no pink remains in the middle, about 4-8 more minutes, depending on size.

If roasting: Cook for 8-10 minutes (again, the larger your meatballs, the longer they’ll need to cook) and check the meatballs (again, they’re done when the internal temperature reaches 165 or the balls are firm and no pink remains in the center).

Yield: 54 mini meatballs (1 tsp) or 24 small meatballs (1 Tbsp)

 

Cauliflower rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ small onion, chopped (a heaping ½ cup)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb cauliflower rice (either pre-riced or use a 1 lb [usually a small] head of cauliflower and chop in a food processor)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over a medium-low flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower rice and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce the flame to low, cover, and cook for 13-15 minutes or until you’ve reached your desired consistency. I like a little bit of crunch to the rice, so I prefer to cook for slightly less time.

Yield: 4 cups

 

Pickled carrots and daikon radish
Adapted from The Banh Mi Handbook
1 medium daikon (about 1 lb)
3 large carrots (about 1 lb)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1 cup warm water

Chop your vegetables into thin sticks and add to a large container.

In a separate large liquid measuring cup, add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Mix with a whisk and microwave on high for 30 seconds and whisk again. Repeat as needed, microwaving for 10-15 seconds at a time, to dissolve the sugar.

Pour over the chopped vegetables and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one month.


For the rice bowls:
Meatballs (see recipe)
Cauliflower rice (see recipe)
Pickled vegetables (see recipe)
Fresh cilantro, torn from the bunch
Cucumber, sliced
Scallions, sliced
Sriracha or other hot sauce
Mayonnaise (optional)

To assemble the bowl, use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. We usually get about two adult-sized portions and one kid-sized portion from the cauliflower rice with meatballs and pickles left over. If your family is larger, increase the rice as needed and adjust cooking times. Your onions and garlic may need another minute each and the overall cooking time for the cauliflower may be slightly longer as well (but test often after the above instructed 15 minutes to avoid overcooking).

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