Monday, March 14, 2011

Cauliflower Penne

As I have previously noted, I have several vegetarians in my family; but most recently my Mother was put on a no animal fat diet as well. Whenever she comes into town I try to stock up on a few extra versatile veggies. I found this Chef’s Jenkins recipe on Tasting Table and immediately knew it was going to be added to my repertoire—just like the title boasted!

Take this lush penne pasta, partnered caramelized cauliflower with briny black olives and capers-- a dish that's quick enough to make on a weeknight, yet is still capable of captivating a crowd.

Cauliflower Penne
2 medium heads cauliflower, cored and trimmed into florets (about 7 cups)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ cup pitted mild black olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
1 medium dried mild chili, seeded and thinly sliced
2 anchovy fillets
1 cup bread crumbs, toasted
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
⅓ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

PREHEAT the oven to 400˚ and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

TOSS the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the cauliflower to the prepared baking sheet and roast, stirring twice, until crisp-tender and golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.

WHEN the cauliflower is nearly done roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. COOK the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

MEANWHILE, in a large saucepan, warm the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil with the butter over medium heat until the butter melts. ADD the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. ADD the olives, capers and chili and cook, stirring, until just warm, about 1 minute. ADD the anchovies and continue cooking, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve, about 2 minutes. Gently STIR in the cauliflower and remove the saucepan from the heat.

DRAIN the pasta and toss immediately with the cauliflower mixture. Add the bread crumbs, cheese and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

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