Even without the "wow factor" of making your own fresh pasta, this simple, visually interesting dish has plenty of "wow" factor to go the flavor mile.
Choosing the right extra virgin olive oil to use in this dish was crucial with so few ingredients involved. The simple yet luxuriant sauce relies heavily on the olive oil used.
For this application, I went with Ultra Premium A.L. Arbequina IOO346. It had the right herbaceous apple-peel notes and just enough pepper which juxtaposed perfectly with the earthy-nuttiness of the roasted cauliflower, sweet caramelized garlic, and savory saltiness of the Pecorino cheese. The taste testers (my family) which included two young kids, declared love at first bite! Everyone exclaimed that it was absolutely amazing! So I declared this meatless dish a healthy, easy weeknight meal if you use dried pasta or a dish to serve for a special occasion if you choose to make your own fresh pasta.
Pan Roasted Roman Cauliflower with Caramelized Garlic & Pecorino over Pappardelle
1 large head of Green Roman Cauliflower florets only (regular cauliflower can be substituted)
8 medium cloves of garlic (sliced thin)
1/2 cup Arbequina IOO346
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup good quality fresh grated Pecorino cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
If using, make the homemade pasta an hour in advance of proceeding with the rest of the recipe. If using dried pasta, boil the pasta in the water that was used to blanch the cauliflower.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large saute pan, heat the Arbequina over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until light golden brown (be very careful not to burn the garlic) Blanch the cauliflower florets for 2 minutes. Remove, drain, and add to the saute pan with the garlic along with the red chili flakes.
Meanwhile, boil the fresh pasta for two minutes in the same water used to blanch the cauliflower.
Saute the cauliflower, garlic and chili flakes for a few more minutes over medium-high heat until the cauliflower begins to get toasty golden brown around the edges. Add one cup of pasta water, the Pecorino, and cream to the pan with the cauliflower and garlic. Simmer for a minute until slightly thickened, and add a few grinds of fresh ground pepper. Add the well drained pappardelle to the pan and toss to coat the pasta and distribute the cauliflower florets. Adjust seasoning with salt to taste. Add more cheese to serve.
Makes 4-6 servings