Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cavatappi with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic Breadcrumbs, & Bacon

When I was in Kindergarten, they used to pass out a snack every day.  Sometimes a graham cracker, sometimes...a raw cauliflower floret.  This seemed cruel and unusual - the bad texture, the awful flavor, the horror!  Nope - I was no fan of the white stuff.
My negative opinion of cauliflower carried with me for years.  Then, one day, my husband bought me an new cookbook.  In it was a trove of deliciousness, and one recipe was for cauliflower.  It was wonderful.  It totally changed my view of the veggie forever after.
Had it not been for that one recipe, I'd never have tried this one.  I can tell you now, though, that it is absolutely worth trying.  Roasting vegetables is a fantastic cooking method, and cauliflower is no exception.  It is enhanced, transcended, transformed!
This is an easy recipe, and delicious.  It is adapted from Martha Stewart.  Perhaps the best commendation I can give it is that my kids (6 & 8 years old) LOVE it!

Cavatappi with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic Breadcrumbs, & Bacon
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Garlic Breadcrumbs -
4 slices good quality white bread, torn into large pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp dry basil

Cauliflower -
1 head of cauliflower
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Pasta -
1 lb bacon
1 lb cavatappi (rotini or fusilli would be fine, too)
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan

1.  For the Breadcrumbs: pulse the bread pieces in a food processor until they are crumbs.

2.  Toss the crumbs together with the oil, garlic, and salt to coat.

3.  Place the crumb mixture in a large skillet set over medium heat.  Toast the crumbs, reducing the heat as needed, stirring often, until golden brown.  Stir in the oregano, marjoram, and basil.  Transfer the crumbs to a plate to cool.  Set aside.

4. For the Cauliflower: preheat the oven to 475°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5.  Cut the cauliflower into small, bite-sized florets (discarding leaves and stems).  Toss the pieces together with the oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet.

6.  Roast the cauliflower for 10 minutes.  Toss the pieces to help them cook evenly.  Continue baking for 8-10 minutes more, or until browned.  Set aside.

7.  For the Pasta: cut the bacon into small pieces (make thin cuts vertically across the slab, making little rectangles).  Place the bacon in a stock pot set over medium-high heat.

8.  Cook the bacon, stirring often, until the fat begins to melt.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Continue cooking, stirring often, until the bacon is crisp and brown.  Transfer the bacon bits to a paper towel lined plate (discard the grease).  Set aside.

9.  Boil the pasta in salted water according to package directions until al dente.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Drain the pasta.

10.  Return the pasta to the pot.  Add the 1 tsp of oil, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and 2 tbsp of the pasta water to the pot.  Toss to combine.  Add more water if the pasta is too dry.

11.  Gently stir the cauliflower into the pasta.

12.  Plate the pasta, topped with breadcrumbs, bacon, and grated Parmesan.  Serve!

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