It’s summertime in Florida! Which means rain, rain, and more rain. It’s been absolutely boring lately– I’m in an online writing class, but other than that, I’ve got my summer free. My mother, brother, and I took a trip to the farmer’s market the other day to get some fresh fruits and veggies. The market is home to a variety of farm animals including: goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, and donkeys. I wanted to say “hello” to the goats and kneeled down next to the fence. A goat ran up to the fence and instantly sputtered its lips, drenching me in spit. Then it’s demon eyes stared into my soul. According to medieval folklore, goats were seen as the devil. And I think they were right about this one.
We moved on to the pigs and fed them peanuts, watching the jowls spit out the hulls.
At the food side of the market I picked up a nice head of cauliflower. I’ve only had it in a mixed vegetable medley, but decided I would make a meat-less entree for that night’s dinner.
I had received Molto Gusto by Mario Batali as a gift for a birthday. All of his recipes are basic, and follow the italian culture of food; let the fresh ingredients speak for themselves. Everyone knows Mario for his bright orange crocs and likable smile. Don’t hate on the croc until you work in a kitchen twelve hours a day. Those puppies helped my back throughout culinary school. He currently co-hosts on “The Chew” one of my favorite foodie talk shows.
Cauliflower is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. Providing digestive support and anti-inflammatory benefits. This recipe utilizes the whole cauliflower; including the core and the green leafy exterior.
This recipe originally called for penne pasta, but I had some linguini noodles on hand instead. And by linguini I meant half a box of linguini and half a box of spaghetti. Nothing says lazy than two different pastas.
This dish is filling, without that bloated down, ” I just ate my weight in noodles”. I was curious what a ragu is classified as, and found out the dictionary defines it as a meat based sauce. So not a “technical” ragu, this cauliflower sauce packs flavor to the pasta without a heavy sauce.
Linguini with Cauliflower Ragu
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 2 lbs.)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-in. dice
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Maldon or other flaky sea salt
- 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
- 6 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb. linguini
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs, sautéed in 1 tbs. olive oil until golden brown
- 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
- Halve cauliflower. Remove leaves and cut out core and reserve. Cut cauliflower into small bite-size florets, reserving stalks. Chop core, leaves, and stalks.
- Combine oil, onion, garlic, and cauliflower core, leaves, and stalks in large pot, season with sea salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until leaves are just beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are just tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
- Add cauliflower florets, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to gentle simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is almost falling apart, 22 to 25 minutes. Add butter, stirring gently until it melts; season well with sea salt. Remove from heat.
- Bring 6 quarts water to boil in large pot and add 3 tbs. kosher salt. Drop in pasta and cook until just al dente.
- Drain pasta, reserving about 1/3 cup pasta water. Add pasta and 1/3 cup reserved water to ragu. Toss over medium heat until pasta is well coated (add more pasta water to thin sauce). Stir in cheese.
- Transfer pasta to serving bowl, sprinkle with bread crumbs and rosemary, and serve with additional grated cheese. Serves 6.
Recipe inspired by Molto Gusto Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner
The passion of the Italian or the Italian-American population is endless for food and lore and everything about it. – Mario Batali