It is pretty amazing anyway you cook it. Roasted, grilled, boiled, steamed.....even fried. (Have you ever had deep fried cauliflower??? No? You haven't lived....) Nestled in Garnet Valley, PA, about 30 minutes outside Philly is an indoor farmers market, complete with PA's own Amish, called Booth's Corner Farmers Market. There is this little stand in there that deeps fries just about every kind of veggie you can find. The deep fried cauliflower is by far, in my opinion, the best.....dipped in cheese sauce......oh......my......God......
Okay, I'm getting off track. Point here is, that cauliflower is amazing. It's especially amazing sauteed and put in a light and robust pasta sauce. My grandfather actually made this for me growing up. Try as I may, I can't get his down exactly, but I make a damn good attempt. This recipe livens up the cauliflower with some heat. Dried pepperoncini flakes give it just enough kick that's enough for your heat seekers and not too much for your wuss'. It's not saucy, just a light thin sauce that gets absorbed gloriously by the rigatoni.
Spicy Cauliflower Rigatoni
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 tsp dried pepperoncini
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 ladlefull startchy pasta water
1 lb Rigatoni
1/2 cup grated Parmiggiano
Place water into pasta pot and put on high heat with a lid. Allow to come to a full boil while you prepare the next few steps.
Wash cauliflower and remove green leaves and center core. Chop cauliflower into bite size florets. You don't want them bigger than your pasta.
In a large, deep skillet, place 2 TBSP olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Drop in 1 tsp of pepperoncini flakes and allow them to toast.
While the pepper flakes are toasting up, chop an onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Add to oil with 1 tsp of salt and sautee gently until translucent.
Add in the cauliflower, butter, black pepper, dried basil and dried thyme and sautee until several pieces of cauliflower get a deep golden color.
Add the chicken stock and reduce heat to a light simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the cauliflower is cooking evenly.
Drop your pasta in heavily salted boiling water.
Add a ladelfull of the salty, startchy pasta water to the cauliflower sauce. Continue to simmer until pasta is about 2 minutes from being al dente.
Drain pasta and drop directly into cauliflower sauce. Crank the heat on high and stir continuously until most of the sauce has been absorbed into the rigatoni. This usually takes about 1 or 2 minutes.
Turn the heat off and add 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmiggiano. Toss gently to combine and serve. Top with additional parmiggiano if desired.
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