Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Penne with Cauliflower and Bacon
Sorry everyone. I know I have been a little delinquent. Again. But in my defense, last week was a very busy week at work (although we did find time to cook a few meals that I am finally getting around to posting now). So I'm hoping to get three posts up today - this pasta, some skirt steak tacos, and a yummy quinoa, spinach and mushroom dish. If you have the time, stay tuned for more posts!
I'm posting this pasta recipe first because I think of the dishes we have made in the few weeks, this one made me the happiest. It was a combination of items in our fridge/pantry - leftover homemade Italian-Style Bread Crumbs, pasta, bacon, parsley and cauliflower. And have I mentioned that I have been obsessed with cauliflower lately? No? Well I totally am. It's delicious. And I am equally obsessed with those Italian-Style Bread Crumbs. They are fairly easy to make and make such a difference in your cooking. Anyway, this pasta was quite tasty and easy to put together, which made me very happy. We just threw together a bunch of ingredients in the fridge/pantry and voila! The combination of flavors really worked together nicely. In each bite you got a little heat from the red pepper flakes, some salty bite from the cheese and the bacon, the wonderful porky flavor of the bacon, and a punch of flavor and texture from the bread crumbs. Yum. It was a fantastically hearty, yet delicious dish, one that I will definitely make again in the future.
Recipes after the jump!
Penne with Caulflower and Bacon
3/4 lb dried penne pasta
4 slices bacon, chopped
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, thicker stems removed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for serving
14 cup Italian-Style Bread Crumbs, plus additional for serving (see recipe below)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over moderately high heat 4-5 minutes until the fat renders, and bacon is crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, cauliflower, garlic and shallot. Cook, stirring only very occasionally, until the cauliflower is caramelized and golden, about 7-8 minutes. Season to taste with s&p (but don't salt the cauliflower too much because the bacon, cheese and the bread crumbs are all fairly salty).
In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente, reserving a cup of pasta water. Drain and add pasta to the skillet, along with 1 tbsp evoo and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, tossing to combine. Add pasta water as needed to achieve a rich, slightly creamy consistency. Add 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs and flat leaf parsley. Toss to combine.
Serve pasta topped with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs.
Italian-Style Bread Crumbs
The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca
By Dave Pasternack & Ed Levine
1 loaf Italian bread
1 1/2 tbsp evoo
1 tsp garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear bread into roughly 2-inch chunks. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until the bread is dry and crunchy, about 15 minutes. Put the chunks in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp of the evoo in a small saute pan. Add the garlic and stir until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, and the remaining 1/2 tbsp evoo. Stir well. Season with s&p and remove from the heat.
Bread crumbs can be stored in a covered container until ready to use.