cauliflower ragu

Bowtie Pasta with Cauliflower Ragu
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Serves 4
  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion (cut into ¼-inch dice)
  • 3 cloves garlic (smashed and peeled)
  • 1½ - 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 1 pound bowtie pasta
  • ½ cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs (fried in olive oil until golden brown)
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley (minced)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  1. Halve the cauliflower. Cut off the leaves and reserve them. Cut out the core and reserve it. Cut the cauliflower into small bite-sized florets, reserving the stalks. Chop the core, stalks, and leaves.
  2. In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and cauliflower leaves, stalks and core. Season with salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the leaves are just beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower leaves are just tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets, garlic, red pepper flakes and ½ cup of pasta water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very soft and almost falling apart, about 22 to 25 minutes. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving about ⅔ cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta water to the cauliflower ragu and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce).
  5. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of chili flakes, breadcrumbs and parsley and drizzle with olive oil.