Pasta is so damn versatile. I mean really. You can do just about anything with it. Hell I’ve even made chocolate pasta. This recipe isn’t quite the stretch. It’s some part Primavera, some part pasta, some part bread and bacon. How good does that sound? Sounds like a party to me.
My mother sent me this recipe. We’d been talking about food (we’re always talking about food) and she mentioned this recipe and that fact that she makes it all the time. Why hadn’t I heard about this? I had to know more so here we all are.
It’s not a super quick pasta recipe, you’ll have to make a quick red sauce for that. You’ll be needing a pound of pasta for this recipe. It’s supposed to be cavatelli. If I’d been on the East Coast I’d have grabbed some. Not so much in Seattle. I just went with whatever was on the shelf; often it’s a trip to the specialty store to get anything outside of the basics.
Bring some water to boil in a pot. Let’s say six quarts. Salt it well. When the water’s come up to boil, add pasta.
You’ll need breadcrumbs. I didn’t have any. I had gotten a loaf of French bread at the store earlier and decided I’d make some homemade bread crumbs. I sliced a few bits off and pulsed everything in the food processor. That made quick work of the bread and left me with a nice pile of differently sized crumbs. Spread them out on a sheet pan and drizzle with some melted butter. Ten minutes at 350 degrees F will leave you with a lovely batch of homemade breadcrumbs.
All that underway, you can heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered some of its fat and is lightly browned – but still soft in the center, about 4 minutes. Don’t overcook it.
Stir the onion into the skillet and cook until barely translucent. Figure somewhere around three or four minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender, about four or five minutes. Season lightly with salt and a little crushed red pepper.
Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a slow simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced by about one-half, about 5 minutes.
l was using a skillet large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta so I drained the pasta and drop it directly into sauce in the skillet. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, tossing and stirring to coat the pasta. Stir the breadcrumbs, parsley and remaining two tablespoons olive oil into the pot. Cook, stirring and tossing the pasta until the sauce is lightly thickened.
It makes a delightful dish. The cauliflower was sweet and well cooked. The bread nicely thickens things up. It’s a quality dish. For a recipe that revolves around a pound of pasta (enough for at least four decent servings) you’ll need:
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 3 Cups Cauliflower (1/2″ sized bits)
- 2 Slices of Bacon – Diced and Cubed
- 1 Pound of Cavatelli (Or Similar Pasta)
- 1 Medium Onion – Diced
- Crushed Red Pepper – To Taste
- 1 and 1/2 Cups Hot Chicken Stock
- 1/4 Cup Freshly Chopped Parsley (Optional)
- 1/3 Cup Fin Dry Breadcrumbs – Adjust As Needed