My love for cauliflower is well-established, as is my love for wine. But what happens when you combine the two? Delicious, delicious things. Last week I saved a quarter of a head of cauliflower from the roasting pan and reserved it for a pasta dinner. I'd seen a couple mentions of that a red wine barley risotto with cauliflower, and since I didn't have any barley (or arborio rice) sitting around, I decided to improvise with a pasta instead.
I chopped some onion and minced some garlic and decided to keep the florets intact. Cavatappi was the only pasta I had on hand, so it won out automatically. I had about a glass of red wine left in the bottom of a bottle. And since I can always go for something spicy, I added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes to the mix.
The result was a fairly nutritious, hearty, satisfying lunch. As much as I love the sweet, crunchy experience of roasted cauliflower, a quick saute in wine and garlic does a great job of bringing out its sharper, more vegetal side. Good stuff.
Pasta with Red Wine and Cauliflower
1/4 pound short pasta, such as penne rigate or cavatappi
1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1-inch florets
1/2 cup dry red wine
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Finely grated parmesan cheese
In boiling, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside; do not rinse. (You can also cook the pasta while you make the sauce.)
Set a large skillet (I used my 12-incher) over high heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, turn the heat to medium-high, and add the onions. Saute the onions for a few minutes until soft and fragrant, but not browned. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes more, until you can smell the garlic and it has turned golden.
Add the cauliflower to the pan and saute for 4-6 minutes, until it has acquired a bit of color and begun to release its water. Sprinkle the mixture with a pinch of salt and deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the pepper flakes and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the red wine is reduced to a syrupy glaze. Add the pasta to the skillet and cook for a minute or two, mixing it with the sauce and letting everything get to know each other.
Transfer the pasta and sauce to a shallow bowl, top with the cheese, taste for seasoning, and eat!