Pasta w/ Cauliflower, Pine Nuts & Raisins
I promise you, though this sounds like a strange combination of ingredients, it is a FABULOUS dish and I love it so.
Do you trust me? Will you try this recipe? I promise complete satisfaction, or your money back.
This is for the cauliflower lovers in the house!
The recipe has Sicilian roots and I once ate a similar dish at a Brooklyn restaurant and I never forgot it.
Since then, I have seen cauliflower made a similar way, with raisins and nuts on Smitten Kitchen and it reminded me it was time to make this pasta dish again.
Pasta w/ Cauliflower, Raisins & Pine Nuts:
medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
8 oz. (half a box) of penne (I used a fancy dried Casarecce from Italy) or orechiette
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup pasta water (don't forget to save some before draining the pasta!)
1 cup of toasted fresh or panko breadcrumbs with garlic
handful of capers
hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp butter (to swirl in at the end)
fresh parsley for the top
salt & pepper
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook your cauliflower for 5 minutes (you can also roast the cauliflower for an even nuttier flavor, 450F for 25 minutes with kosher salt & olive oil).
In a small skillet, add your fresh or panko breadcrumbs with enough olive oil to coat and some chopped garlic, and swirl around for 2-3 minutes until toasted and brown. Set crumbs aside.
(*tip: I usually make a large quantity of fresh breadcrumbs by pulsing stale Italian bread slices in the food processor. They keep in a ziploc bag in the freezer for weeks, this way I have them on hand).
Using the same pot of water that the cauliflower was cooked in, keep the water boiling and start cooking your pasta.
You can make the sauce while your pasta is cooking.
In a large skillet, enough to hold the pasta and sauce, heat some olive oil and saute the garlic & chopped onion until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Now add the cooked cauliflower, raisins and pine nuts and cook for a few minutes, until the cauliflower starts to brown and get soft.
At this point, you are almost finished. Add the chicken stock to moisten the ingredients in the pan along with the 2 tbsp of butter.
Your pasta should be done by now, so drain it, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking liquid (this will thicken the sauce). Add the pasta right into the skillet w/ some of the water.
Toss the pasta with 3/4 of the toasted breadcrumbs, reserving the rest for serving. Add the capers and mix with the vegetable and pasta.
Serve in individual bowls and garnish with fresh parsley and top each bowl with more toasted breadcrumbs.
This took 20 minutes to throw together, and 2 minutes to inhale.
PS I have no idea what that little white stringy thing is in the photo, so please don't ask!