Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower
Adapted from Mario Batali, The Babbo Cookbook
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 6 mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 5-inch heads of cauliflower, about 1 to 1-1/4 pounds
- 1 pound ziti or penne pasta
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
Step 1: Bring 6 quarts water to boil in a large spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Step 2: In a 14- to 18-inch saute pan, heat oil until just smoking and add onion, garlic, mint and red pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Step 3: Meanwhile, remove leaves and base core from cauliflower and chop into 1-inch pieces. Break the florets away from the central core and size them similarly.
Step 4: Add cauliflower to the saute pan with the onions. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cauliflower is softened and light brown but not mushy.
Step 5: Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente, about 8 to 12 minutes, and drain in colander. Before draining pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Step 6: Toss hot pasta into pan with cauliflower, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and continue to cook pasta until water absorbs. Add grated cheese, black pepper and parsley. Toss to coat and serve immediately.