There are few veggies I like more than cauliflower. I like it raw, steamed, or roasted. I like it in soups, salads or gratins. I think it’s a very versatile vegetable and it’s available year round.
Because I love it so much, I’m always looking for new recipes to use it into, and I was immediately drawn to this Sicily-inspired recipe in which cauliflower is sautéed and added to a simple vegetarian pasta dish. Cauliflower and pasta, what’s not to like? The trick is to slowly cook the cauliflower until it’s golden and caramelized so it turns sweet and somewhat earthy. Pecorino cheese and lemon zest perk up the dish while grated hard-boiled eggs make it satisfyingly rich and filling.
This dish quickly comes together and the recipe can easily be double or tripled. It’s perfect for weeknights but special enough to serve to company as an Italian primi piatti.
1 large egg
3 tbsp [45 ml] olive oil, divided
¾ tsp [7.5 ml] ground coriander
½ tsp [2.5 ml] crushed red pepper flakes
½ small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ large head of cauliflower (about 1 lb [454 g]), cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices
½ tsp [2.5 ml] kosher salt plus more for seasoning
4.5 oz [125 g] dry penne or rigatoni
1 oz [30 g] Pecorino cheese, grated
1 handful of baby arugula (rocket) leaves
½ lemon, juice and zest (about ½ tsp [2.5 ml] zest and 1 tbsp [15 ml] juice)
1 tbsp [15 ml] toasted pine nuts
Place eggs in a small saucepan and add cold water to cover by 2″ [5 cm]. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then immediately remove from heat and let eggs sit for 12 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water. Let cool completely, then peel and coarsely grate or chop. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp [30 ml] olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in coriander and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion, garlic, cauliflower, and ½ tsp [2.5 tsp] salt. Cook, stirring often, until cauliflower is golden brown, tender, and sweet, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook penne or rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (I shave off 1-2 minutes from the manufacturer’s instructions). Drain, reserving 1/3 cup [80 ml] pasta cooking water.
Return skillet with cauliflower to medium-high heat. Add reserved pasta cooking water and penne; toss gently to combine. Cook for 1 minute, then stir in reserved grated egg, cheese, and lemon zest and juice. Drizzle penne with remaining 1 tbsp [15 ml], toss in the baby arugula leave, and season to taste with salt and more lemon zest, juice, and red pepper flakes, if desired. Divide among warm bowls and garnish with pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Sara Dickerman, Bon Appétit Magazine.