Rigatoni with Cauliflower, Pecorino, Hot Pepper, and Bread Crumbs Print Email

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced carrot
1/4 cup minced celery
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of minced pepperoncini or red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 pound rigatoni
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Fry the soffritto, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and mix thoroughly. Season with salt, pepper, and pepperoncini. Cook until the cauliflower begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Break the tomatoes into the pot, allowing the juices within to fall into the sauce (discard the juice in the can). Mix well, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently until the cauliflower is tender and begins to break apart, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is almost al dente. Lift the cooked pasta out
of the water and add it to the cauliflower mixture to finish cooking in the sauce.

Add enough of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce, about 1/2 cup, and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the parsley and half of the pecorino
and cook, stirring to coat the pasta with cauliflower sauce. When the pasta is al dente, remove the pot from the heat.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, butter, and the remaining pecorino. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a shallow baking dish. Spoon an even layer of the bread crumbs over the pasta. Brown the bread crumbs under the broiler, about 3 minutes. Let the pasta rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

- serves 4 to 6 -
Adapted from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora

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