Rigatoni and Cauliflower al Forno
Adapted from – http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016841-rigatoni-and-cauliflower-al-forno
( Serves 6: Preparation time about 1 hour; unattended cooking time 20 minutes.)
Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce was a staple meal when I was growing up, so David Tanis’ recipe for Rigatoni & Cauliflower al Forno (i.e., baked in the oven) resonated with me.
But being addicted to big, bold flavors, I thought that the amount of spice in his published recipe would be lacking to my palate. So, I doubled, tripled and even quadrupled his quantities. As a matter of fact, I believe that the only quantities I did not adjust were the those of rigatoni and cauliflower. However, I did use his recommended cooking times. If you think that the amount of capers, garlic, crushed hot pepper, sage and cheese that I used might be daunting to your palate, by all means use his original recipe at NYTIMES.com. Either way I hope you will enjoy this dish.
1 lb. rigatoni
1 head of cauliflower
3 tbsp. + 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. capers, drained and coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. crushed hot red pepper
4 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Zest of 1 lemon
½ lb. coarsely grated fresh mozzarella
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Bring 6 or 7 quarts of water to boil. When the water begins to boil, add about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the rigatoni. Stir well and cook for two minutes fewer than the directions on the box or package, as the macaroni will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the rigatoni, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
3. While the pasta water is boiling, trim all leaves from the cauliflower, cut it in half lengthwise, and remove the tough core. Cut the halves crosswise into ¼ inch slices.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil on high heat. Add the cauliflower without crowding, cook in batches with added olive oil if necessary. Brown the cauliflower until caramelized on both sides. After the last batch of cauliflower is cooked, add back the previous batches, add the capers, garlic, hot pepper, sage and lemon zest, stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well again.
5. Remove the cauliflower mixture to a large bowl, add the set-aside rigatoni and mix well. Add the grated mozzarella and mix well again.
6. Coat the bottom and sides of a large (18” x 12”) stainless steel roasting pan with a film of olive oil, add the mixture, spreading it evenly over the pan. Sprinkle the Pecorino-Romano cheese and bread crumbs over all, then drizzle the 1/3 cup of olive oil over all, as well.
7. Place pan on top shelf of oven and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the top is crisp and golden. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
We served this with a chilled bottle of delicious Arneis.