Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cauliflower Ragu

This one is from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali. V and I both really liked it and it's a quick dish that can be made with ingredients I usually have on hand. Someday, when I'm out of our cannery pasta supply, I'll even make it with the whole grain stuff and then it will be really healthy. Note: I am paraphrasing the recipe and ingredients. You'll need to get the book for the full Batali effect. Also, the recipe below makes 4-6 servings. I cut it in half for our family.

1 medium cauliflower (2 lbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 med. onion, 1/4 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
sea salt
1 1/2 -2 TB red pepper flakes (opt.)
6 TB butter
1 lb pasta
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 TB olive oil
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

Halve the cauliflower. Cut off the leaves and core and reserve them. Cut off floretes. Chop core, stalks, and leaves. Combine oil, onion, garlic, and cauliflower leaves, stalks, and core in a large pot. Season with sea salt and cook over medium until leaves are beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Reduce to low and stir frequently until leaves are tender, 18-20 minutes.

Note: I used 10 oz of frozen cauliflower floretes instead (for a half recipe) so I basically skipped this step and just sauted the onion and garlic in the oil until they were translucent.

Add the cauliflower florets, red pepper (opt.), and 1 cup water. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and stir occasionally until cauliflower is very soft and almost falling apart, 25 minutes. Add the butter, stir until it melts, remove from heat, season well with sea salt.

Boil 6 qts water, add 3 TB salt, and drop in pasta. Cook until al dente. (This is always less time than I think it will be. I think my spaghetti took 5 minutes. Maybe 4.) Meanwhile, toast breadcrumbs in 1 TB olive oil in a small skillet until starting to brown. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and water to the cauliflower and stir and toss until well coated. Add up to 1/3 cup more pasta water if necessary. Stir in the cheese. Serve topped with bread crumbs, rosemary, and additional grated cheese.

More notes: It looks like a lot of work but it really isn't that hard to pull together. Also, don't omit the breadcrumbs or rosemary. They really add a lot to the dish. Oh, and I don't use the red pepper flakes because I hate all things spicy - V just adds them to his serving at the table.

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