Friday, March 28, 2014

Gemelli with cauliflower, olives, anchovies

Pasta with cauliflower, olives, anchovies

I'm not aware this has a particular name (comparable to "puttanesca" or "carbonara"), but it's a family favorite, and easy to pull together in just a few minutes.  Omit the chicken stock and the anchovies, and it's completely vegan. 

Beyond the cauliflower, everything is a pantry item.  Dinner on the table within the half-hour.

You can easily substitute broccoli for the cauliflower.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 c olive oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 anchovy fillets
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
(salt) and pepper to taste
1/2 c pitted olives, chopped coarsely (like Sicilian oil-cured, or Kalamata, but green Spanish olives from a jar will do, too)
2 Tbp capers, drained
2 c chicken stock (or a combo of stock, wine, water, depending on what you have on hand)
2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbp lemon juice (optional)
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 lb pasta, such as rigatoni, penne rigate, gemelli, rotini, or similar short pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium flame.  Add sliced onion, garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes, black pepper.  (You might need salt, but with the anchovies, unlikely.)  Sauté until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes.

In a separate pot, cook pasta until just barely al dente in amply salted water.  Set aside, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.

Add cauliflower to the onions, stir to coat in olive oil, then add stock.  Bring to a brisk simmer, stir, then cover, and reduce heat to low, allowing the cauliflower to steam until just tender, about 5 minutes. 

Uncover, add cooked pasta, olives, capers, lemon zest, parsley.  Mix well, and let simmer briefly until much of the stock has been absorbed by the pasta.  Add pasta cooking water as desired to ‘loosen’ the pasta as you see fit.  (Any hot liquid you add will certainly be absorbed by the pasta, so tread carefully not to oversaturate it.)  Drizzle with a bit more fresh olive oil at the end.  For an added kick, squeeze lemon juice over the pasta just before serving, if desired. 

Serve, passing grated pecorino cheese at the table. 

If you have any leftovers, definitely add the lemon juice, and serve cold or at room temperature as a pasta salad.  

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