PASTA WITH CAULIFLOWER OR BROCCOLI RABE AND SAUSAGE
Adapted from “Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way” by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant (W.W. Norton, 2013, $35)
• 3 tbsp. kosher salt
• 1 cauliflower (about 3 lb.), trimmed and cut into florets, or the same amount of broccoli or broccoli rabe
• 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 small piece spicy dried chile or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
• 7 oz. finely ground unseasoned bulk sausage
• 1/2 c. dry, full-bodied red wine
• 1 lb. orecchiette, fusilli or penne
• Grated pecorino cheese
Bring 5 quarts water to boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Add salt, then vegetables, and boil until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve cooking water in the pot for boiling the pasta later. (I used cauliflower, but roasted it with a little olive oil in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes instead of boiling it.)
Put oil, garlic and piece of chile (but not pepper flakes) in a large, deep skillet that will hold all the pasta later. Sauté for a few minutes, just until garlic is golden and chile has darkened, then discard garlic and chile. Crumble sausage meat into skillet. Brown evenly, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
Raise heat and add wine. Let it bubble until smell of alcohol has disappeared, about 2 minutes. Stir often to keep meat from sticking. (The sausage will look purple from the wine, but not to worry.) Add cooked vegetables and mix well. If you are using pepper flakes instead of a single piece of chile, add them now.
Bring vegetable water back to boil and cook pasta until al dente.