Rigatoni with Cauliflower and Prosciutto

I attempted to bake my own bread yesterday. It was a bust. Turns out I bought the wrong yeast (active dry when I needed instant) so though I followed the recipe exactly, my bread not only didn’t rise, but emerged from the oven a dense brick. Into the garbage it went. However, I am undeterred, and after getting my hands on some instant yeast this morning, I am giving it another shot. I’ll fill you in on the full story later this week when I can hopefully post that my second attempt was a success.

Fortunately the dinner I made last night more than made up for my dismal performance as an artisanal bread maker. I came across this recipe combining cauliflower and rigatoni in my Food & Wine cookbook a few weeks ago and marked the page for a later visit. Rigatoni is my favorite pasta and the Greenmarket had big, beautiful heads of cauliflower among their wares last week, which I happily picked up. The time had come to try out this dish.

The recipe calls for heavy cream, but I wanted something a bit lighter. Plus, I had whole milk left over from another recipe and since we don’t drink whole milk, I didn’t want it to go to waste. I wondered if I could somehow substitute this and in my search I came upon this handy list of cooking and baking substitutions from AllRecipes. Turns out I could add 3 tablespoons of butter to 3/4 cup whole milk to make light cream. Sold. (If you want heavy cream add 1/3 cup butter). I also substituted Pecorino Romano for Parmiggiano, because I like Romano better.

This was a delightful dish! The sauce is on the thin side so it doesn’t coat the pasta super well but you don’t really need it to. It has enough flavor on its own. (Heavy cream might thicken a bit better). I also really like that you cook the cauliflower in the same pot as the pasta. Not only does it save you from washing two pots, but the starch from the pasta gives the cauliflower a wonderful texture and flavor. Next time I’d probably use pancetta instead of prosciutto for an added crispiness. But otherwise this is definitely being added to our dinner repertoire!

Rigatoni With Cauliflower and Prosciutto

3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 pound rigatoni

One 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons

Preheat the broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the rigatoni until al dente; about 6 minutes before the rigatoni is done, add the cauliflower florets to the pot. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the panko with the Parmigiano cheese and the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Return the rigatoni and cauliflower to the pot. Add the garlic cream, the prosciutto and the reserved pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated. Scrape the pasta into a large shallow baking dish and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top. Broil for about 2 minutes, rotating constantly, until the topping is evenly browned. Serve hot.


1 Comment

  1. christie said,

    October 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Sorry to hear the bread was a bust. The pasta dish looks fab though! Good luck on round 2 of bread making!

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