It’s no news to The Interwebs that Deb at Smitten Kitchen is a failsafe resource when the “what to cook” question gets too pressing–she has a charming style and loads of recipes from all over, all nicely organized and accessible in a print friendly format. What service!
I have turned to her several times in the last couple weeks, beginning with a recipe she posted based on a recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables. I will try anything with cauliflower; it’s definitely in my top 5 vegetables (a list I should make and cook from some time), and I happened to have walnuts in the freezer and ricotta salata in the fridge, so I took the posting as a sign of what to make that night. The recipe calls for two heads of cauliflower, which is a LOT, guys. A LOT. In the end it was definitely the correct proportion for one pound of pasta, but I ate leftovers for two lunches and a dinner, so next time I’ll be making a half batch. This would feed a crowd. I was out of red pepper flakes and the recipe could have used a little punch, but I’m such a sucker for cauliflower that I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon. I might try it with some *really* good white wheat pasta next time–this would be a good time to call in the $6/bag Rustichella D’Abruzzo stuff–though the whole wheat at least gave some tonal contrast with the cauliflower. I think it would actually be prettier as a shades of cream thing, though.
This really is a fast recipe, with the most annoying/time consuming part being the hacking up of 800,000 cauliflower florets. I won’t lie, I’m a dab hand with a cauliflower, thanks to that obsession, but it didn’t give myself enough cutting board space and I felt like I was drowning in the stuff. Next time, half a bag of pasta and one head of cauliflower. But look how lovely those little inner leaves are, all glistening in the
dew tap water:
And witness the madness:
If I hadn’t been so lazy and sick of cutting up cauliflower while holding it in my hand because I had no space to put it down (ahem) I would have made the florets a bit smaller or at least more evenly sized so they’d cook in about the same time. It was a beastly task trying to sauté all of that in my biggest pan; the florets didn’t get as caramelized as I would like because there was just too much in the pan. I would also add half again the walnuts; the flavor and texture contrast perfectly with the cauliflower but they were a little scarce on the ground. (Maybe I had freakishly large heads of cauliflower? But they seemed about normal to me.)
Horrible photo of the finished dish; once again I am fighting the cursed lighting in my kitchen:
Definitely worth making again! But maybe not for a little while. I ate a LOT of that pasta.