CLASSIC pasta penne (orecchiette) with cauliflower








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Cauliflower is a wonderful basis for an excellent, and simple, pasta sauce. The florets of cauliflower are steamed and then combined with garlic and tomato to make this delectable treat whenever cauliflower is available.

for the sauce:

  • one head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • one-half cup of olive oil
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • one-quarter cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • one 28-ounce can of imported, peeled Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • one-half cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

for the pasta:

  • one pound of penne is ideal, although orchiette or fusilli will work fine would also work

Drain the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Save a half cup of juice.

Make sure the cauliflower florets are clean and separated. Wash in cold water. Then either put them in a pot of boiling water and cook for about five to seven minutes, making sure they are still firm, and then transferring them with a slotted spoon to a bowl . . .

. . . or, steam them in a metal steamer or in a bamboo steamer on a wok for about five minutes, until tender.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan large enough to eventually hold the sauce and the pasta. Add the garlic. When it first starts to sizzle, add the parsley and the red pepper flakes and a teaspoon of salt. Sauté for four minutes.

 Add the tomatoes and juice and simmer slowly (do not boil) for ten to fifteen minutes, until tomatoes break down into a sauce.

 Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a raging boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente (or just a touch short of al dente). Drain somewhat, although the pasta should carry a little moisture.

Bring the sauce to heat again. Add the steamed cauliflower. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir very well. Add pepper. Check for taste. Add the parmesan and stir.

Cover and steam-cook for a minute over medium heat. Stir once again and serve.







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