Upstairs on the Square-Inspired Pasta

Sometimes when I eat out and I really like the dish, I immediately think of how I can re-create it at home. I’ve been successful with some restaurant-inspired dishes, like the Shrimp and Goat Cheese Salad from Woodward and the Chocolate Brioche Pudding from the Langham Hotel.  My most recent creation was a pasta dish inspired by a meal at Upstairs on the Square.

Upstairs on the Square in Harvard Square is one of the prettiest, most festive-looking restaurants I know in Boston. Coming into the restaurant is like attending a dinner party hosted by your fabulous, zebra-print loving, purple-and-pink-clad girl friend. And the staff is very hospitable, so dining there feels like some sort of intimate gathering with your friends.

I had dinner there last week and the food was wonderful:

I had a Hot (bacon-wrapped) Date

My friend and I shared the Charred Artic Char…

…and the Cauliflower Strozzapreti

And this is what inspired me to create my own version at home. I love roasted veggies and recently, pasta consumption has become a regular occurrence in my life. I love how it is easy to prepare and pretty healthy (I always use whole wheat pasta and throw in lots of veggies). Also I’m not gonna lie but lately I have been craving carbs like nobody’s business. I would like to blame it on my half marathon training… I mean, if my schedule calls for running 9 or 10 miles tomorrow, I can carbo-load right? If the answer is no, I don’t want to hear it.

Cauliflower is bland by itself, but roasting cauliflower gives it a nutty flavor, and it blends perfectly with sweet and tender roasted garlic.

To offset the whiteness of the whole dish, I decided to make things more exciting. Yes, my idea of excitement is using tri-color shells instead of brown whole wheat pasta.

The Upstairs on the Square version had toasted brioche crumbs but I used chopped mushrooms instead, which also makes the dish a little meatier.

I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower as a base, and here is the version I came up with:

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic

About 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets (I just bought a pack from Whole Foods, and broke the bigger ones into smaller pieces, probably about 1 or 2 inches)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces pasta (I used spinach and tomato shells)
1 pack white mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

homemade version of pasta with roasted cauliflower and garlic

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower and 5 cloves garlic with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly browned and tender, about 30-40 minutes, tossing once.

Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and chopped mushrooms, saute for 6-8 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and brown. You can also throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want a little kick.

When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. When the cauliflower is done roasting, combine with pasta and mushrooms. Toss everything together, gradually adding enough pasta water to form a thin sauce that coats pasta. Serve topped with chopped chives and crumbled feta cheese.

this captured all the flavors I liked from the original version

I’m pretty happy with the results and so were my friends whom I forced to eat it I shared it with. This dish reheats nicely in the microwave, and for added nutrients, I threw in a handful of spinach before nuking. I also may or may not have thrown in an additional sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Have you been to Upstairs on the Square? What was the last restaurant-inspired dish you tried?

PS – I submitted this recipe to Melt in Your Mouth Mondays.


17 Responses to “Upstairs on the Square-Inspired Pasta”

  1. #
    Michelle posted April 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I love Upstairs on the Square! I do the same thing and start thinking about how to recreate dishes…while I’m still at the restaurant eating the dish!

  2. #
    MelissaNibbles posted April 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

    This looks delicious. I need to order that next time!

  3. #
    Victoria (District Chocoholic) posted April 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Roasted cauliflower and feta – this must be delicious. Very cool that you recreated it.

  4. #
    Megan posted April 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

    This sounds great! I’m impressed you can recreate dishes like that!

  5. #
    Dana posted April 29, 2011 at 9:47 am

    It’s no wonder you wanted to recreate this dish… sounds so super delicious! I l-o-v-e roasted cauliflower!

  6. #
    Alicia at AliGirl Cooks posted April 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

    This looks delicious! I love roasted cauliflower and mushrooms! I’m adding this to the menu plan!

  7. #
    christina posted April 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

    i love recreating dishes that i’ve had at restaurants! it’s so fun to see how good you can make it and i love when the at-home version tastes better! :)

  8. #
    Clarkie @ Beloved Green posted April 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

    It is one of my favorite past times trying to recreate meals from restaurants. The experimenting is so much fun. Your take on it sounds great.

  9. #
    Lesley Lifting Life posted April 29, 2011 at 11:58 am

    That definitely looks like my kind of pasta … yum!!

  10. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted April 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I try to copy restaurant meals all the time. Yours looks great! I’ll need to give UOTS another shot – I went for dinner once and found it very stuffy and the food just so-so… but so many people love it!

  11. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet posted April 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

    So glad you recreated this! I need to try it.

  12. #
    Julie @ Shining From Within posted April 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    MMMMMM! I LOVE PASTA! i’m bookmarking this :D

  13. #
    Megan posted April 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I think I would absolutely love this… with all that feta and cauliflower. I’ve been to Upstairs on the Square a few times and dream of having a bridal shower in that pink room. :)

  14. #
    Hannah posted April 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I adore roasted cauliflower like nobody’s business! Haven’t made pasta in a long time though… You’re so creative with the re-making restaurant dishes!

  15. #
    sophia posted April 30, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    OF COURSE you need to carbo-load. It’ll make your 9-10 miles stronger. :-)

    My cousin goes to BU…I must recommend this place to her! I love the look of that cauliflower stozzapretti.

  16. #
    MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College posted May 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I LOVE pasta. I am not even training and I carbo load….all the time :-) I love cauliflower…definitely saving this one.

  17. #
    Alicia posted May 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I also love upstairs on the square – it makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. I wasn’t a huge fan of cauliflower until I had it roasted – I love the nutty flavor.

Leave a Comment