Sunday Supper: Cauliflower orecchiette

  • June 7, 2010 - 5:32 PM

Serves 8 to 10.

Note: This garlicky, spicy mix of pasta and veggies is from "Cat Cora's Classics With a Twist," by Cat Cora. You can use other types of pasta, if preferred. Orecchiette are tiny disk shapes, or "little ears." Farfalle are bow- or butterfly shapes.

• 3 tsp. kosher salt, divided

• 1 head cauliflower (about 2 lb.)

• 1 lb. orecchiette or farfalle pasta (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. olive oil

• 2 tbsp. minced garlic (about 6 medium cloves)

• 1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

• 1 to 11/2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Fill a large pot three-quarters full with water, add 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut cauliflower florets away from the core and add to boiling water. Cook until fork-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove cauliflower and drain in colander. When water comes back to a boil, stir in pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.

While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until it begins to shimmer but is not smoking. Add cauliflower and, with a spatula or wooden spoon, break florets into bite-sized pieces, roughly the same size as the pasta. Cook, stirring, just until florets begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

When pasta is done, drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add orecchiette, cauliflower and garlic to pot and toss. Add crushed red pepper flakes, basil, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper, and toss. Add cheese and toss again. If pasta doesn't look saucy enough, spoon in a bit of reserved pasta water, toss one last time, and serve right away.

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