Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Get Your Daily Dose

What do you make with a head of cauliflower? Seriously. I mean, I know that I like it well enough, and have eaten it in the past, but I can't think of a single preparation. It's often relegated to a position between the carrot sticks and broccoli florets on super lame crudites platters, sitting next to a bowl of sour cream dip flavored with...something. Ack. Should I cook and puree it like mashed potatoes? Roast it? Smother it in hollandaise? Make aloo gobi? Yeah, right. I'll be ordering that for delivery from my favorite Indian restaurant.

I never realized that I had absolutely no idea what to do with a whole head of cauliflower until I was staring at one, wondering why I thought it was a good purchase. I mean, I'm pretty sure I've been eating cauliflower my whole life, but I can't actually pinpoint a single recipe. As a kid I ate it as a frozen vegetable that was heated up and served with melted butter. Butter makes everything better, but there must be a more substantial way to serve it.

After a little internet research I decided to try a recipe that I found on Food & Wine's website. It looked pretty painless and more importantly, flavorful, as cauliflower has a delicate (read: little to no) flavor. Cauliflower and pasta alone would be pretty lackluster, but add garlic cream, prosciutto, and Parmesan and we're talking! It's kind of like a healthy mac and cheese (kinda sorta?) except that you don't have to turn on the oven. (The broiler isn't the oven, really.) And...there might be some heavy cream. But you will get almost your entire daily dose of Vitamin C. See? Healthy!

Rigatoni with Cauliflower, Prosciutto, and Parmesan
(Adapted from Food & Wine)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound whole wheat (or regular) rigatoni
One (1 1/2-pound) head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons
Chopped fresh parsley, optional

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the rigatoni until al dente, but add the cauliflower florets to the same pot after 4 minutes, then continue cooking with the pasta for an additional 4 -5 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the broiler. Return the cooked rigatoni and cauliflower to the pot over low heat. Add the garlic cream, the prosciutto, and the reserved pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour the pasta mixture into a large shallow baking dish, spreading evenly, and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top. Broil for about 2 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the topping is evenly browned. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 4 - 6.


spinney said...

Why SHOULD broccoli make it into all the great pasta dishes. Poor cauliflower! If pricked, does it not also bleed???

Yum. That sure looks good. Too bad I already ate.


Arushi Khosla (FabBlab) said...

I'm hungry now, THANKS a lot. :P

WendyB said...

That looks decadent!

stacy said...

I don't like cauliflower, but this dish still looks yummy!!