Cauliflower Like You've Never Had it Before
January 31, 2006
Cauliflower is a delicious immature flower that is often under-used in many people's culinary arsenal. Often served raw on vegetable platters, this delicate plant is never given center stage of any good meal I've ever had. Cauliflower is part of the cabbage family and is a native plant to Italy dating from the 16th century. The plant's creamy color is produced by tying the leaves of the plant around the head or crowns and preventing the plant from sunlight that would normally produce a more yellow color in the plant.
I decided to buy a crown of cauliflower recently and searched high and low for a way to prepare it that didn't involve pork or milk. Thanks to Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, I have made a wonderfully simple and elegant meal from this noble plant.
You will need: one 16 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes; 1/2 small white onion finely diced; 3 cloves of crushed garlic; 2 bay leaves; 1 crown of cauliflower washed and cut into small 1 inch florettes; 1 chile piquin pepper; handful of chopped flat leafed Italian parsley; 4 cups of cooked penne pasta.
Step One: Cook your penne pasta according to the directions on the packet; drain; rinse in cold water and drizzle with olive oil; set aside. (Cook this while you cook the other ingredients below so pasta is not too cold)
Step Two: While your pasta cooks, saute the onions and garlic in 3 tblsp of olive oil over medium heat. Optional: when translucent, cool off with 1/4 c of white wine.
Step Three: Add cauliflower, bay leaves, and crush red chile over the mixture and season with salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Step Four: Meanwhile, take tomatoes and crush them in a bowl with your hands, removing the cores of the tomatoes. Pour this mixture into the pan, stir, cover, and cook over medium heat for another 15 minutes.
Step Five: Stir in the penne pasta and parsley. Garnish with romano or freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve piping hot.