Thursday, December 3, 2009

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Currants

This is a riff on a classic southern Italian combo. I used the relatively hard to find (& expensive) pasta orecchiette, but you could substitute bow-ties (farfalle) or rotini. You could also substitute golden raisins for the harder-to-find currants, but I think the search for currants is worth the effort.

(I did photograph my dish, but due to a computer problem I could not upload the photo, so I'm using clip-art.)

Pasta with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Currants
Serves 3-4
1/3 cup dried currants
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden brown
1 large head cauliflower, cut into one-inch florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
12-15 ounces orecchiette or other pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 T chopped parsley

1. Soak the currants in the wine for at least 15 minutes, while you work.
2. In a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water, blanch the cauliflower until fork-tender but still firm, about 3-4 minutes. (Test as you go--it would be bad to overcook the cauliflower at this stage) Drain well.
3. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and keep warm, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to add to sauce.
4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for about one minute, until it becomes fragrant. Add blanched cauliflower and stir-fry until it begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add currants with their liquid, crushed red pepper and pine nuts. Cook until heated through, just a few minutes. Add cauliflower and pasta, stirring well. Cover and allow to heat for another couple of minutes.
5. Stir in pasta water and cheese. Taste and add salt, if needed.
6. Remove to a serving bowl or individual plates. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
7. Serve immediately, and pass more cheese at the table.

P.S. -- My husband loved this dish!

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