Two weeks have passed since Italicious’s six year anniversary, I am shocked that I missed it, but I have been teaching English to pre-schoolers and it is sucking the life out of me. I’m not sure who’s bright idea it was, nor why I thought I could do it, this lady may have a preschooler, but that doesn’t mean I have the patience for a classroom filled with them. Let’s talk cauliflower though.
I love cauliflower, always have and have always loved it in every manifestation, but until only a couple of years ago, I had never tasted the wonder of browned cauliflower. That is, roasted or pan seared. I never truly understood the complexity of flavor that this pale vegetable could offer, now my love of cauliflower is that much greater.
I found this recipe on the New York Times and it was perfect to try for a weeknight meal. I made a few adjustments, adding a little cream to moisten the baked pasta, because when I mixed it all up to place in the baking dish it seemed a little dry. It was good, but I have to say that it was even better when I reheated or shall we say, researed the leftovers in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, letting the pasta get a little crunchy, that is when it really sang to me.
Rigatoni and Cauliflower al Forno
from the New York Times
- pound rigatoni or other large pasta shape
- 1 medium cauliflower, about 1 1/2 pounds
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped sage, plus a few sage leaves left whole
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 6 ounces coarsely grated fontina or mozzarella
- 2 ounces finely grated Romano cheese or other hard pecorino
- ½ cup coarse dry bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Cook the rigatoni in well-salted water according to package directions, but drain while still quite al dente. (If directions call for 12 minutes cooking, cook for 10 instead.) Rinse pasta with cool water, then drain again and set aside.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom. Cut out tough core and stem any extraneous leaves. Lay cauliflower flat side down and cut crosswise into rough 1/4-inch slices. Break into smaller pieces.
Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add cauliflower slices, along with any crumbly pieces, in one layer. (Work in batches if necessary.) Let cauliflower brown and caramelize for about 2 minutes, then turn pieces over to brown the other side. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. It’s fine if some pieces don’t brown evenly. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, sage leaves and lemon zest and stir to coat.
Put cooked cauliflower mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rigatoni and fontina and toss. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish. Top with Romano cheese, then with bread crumbs and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. (Dish may be completed to this point up to several hours in advance and kept at room temperature, covered.)
Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until top is crisp and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley before serving.Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add cauliflower slices, along with any crumbly pieces, in one layer. (Work in batches if necessary.) Let cauliflower brown and caramelize for about 2 minutes, then turn pieces over to brown the other side. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. It’s fine if some pieces don’t brown evenly. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, sage leaves and lemon zest and stir to coat.
Five Years Ago: Gnocchi with Sausage Fennel Ragù, Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake, Pasta e Ceci, Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs, Kale and Potato Soup, Pumpkin and Kale Risotto, Apple Pancakes & Pasta e Zucca
Six Years Ago: Cuttlefish over Spaghetti with a Tomato – Olive sauce, Pasta e Fagioli, Roasted Ricciola on a bed of Fennel, Pizza for Lunch and Pizza for Dinner, Marco’s in Riviera di Chiaia, Napoli, Fried Sole with Mache and Pear Salad, Babà, Melanzane alla Lina, Orata alla Ligure, Pizza Bianca Farcita & Ziti with a Seafood-Fennel Sauce