Penne with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower

My not-so-secret love affair with the larger-than-life,red-headed, croc-wearing Italian master chef continues. I literally cannot get enough of Mario Batali.

I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Babbo twice now, and I’ve been pouring over the Babbo cookbook since I received it as a birthday gift in July. But last night, I finally pulled the trigger. I made not one, but two recipes from the cookbook. I went batshit for Batali.

This pasta was the clear winner out of the two dishes I made – and more importantly, it’s utterly simple to make. I’ve made a similar cauliflower pasta before, but this one takes the cake. Mario makes this tuscan-style pasta with ziti, but I substituted penne as Central Market was sold out of ziti. Who knew ziti was such a hot item?

And don’t be scared to get overly aggressive with the pecorino. It’s worth it.

Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower (The Babbo Cookbook, Mario Batali)

Serves 4

kosher salt
1/4 extra- virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of fresh mint, leaves only
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 pound ziti (or other tubular pasta)
pecorino romano cheese, for grating

Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and add enough salt so the water tastes like the sea.

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add onion, mint, pepper flakes, and garlic, and saute over medium- high heat until the garlic is just golden, 1-2 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook until tender, about 7 minutes.

Cook ziti in the water according to the package directions, until tender yet al dente. Drain pasta, reserving some of the pasta water, and add to the pan with the cauliflower. Toss over high heat for 1 minute, adding pasta water if it seems a bit too dry. Generously grate cheese over each serving.

Categories: Inspiration, Main Dish, Recipes

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