Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs

At first, this looked to be an odd combination, but it turned out to be very tasty. In fact, the breadcrumbs alone were good enough to eat with a spoon. And for a change (for me), the cauliflower isn’t roasted. Or served with cheddar cheese. A breakthrough!

The pasta, orecchiette, was not new to me. I like this pasta because of the different textures and chewiness which result from the different thickness of the pasta. And the names for different pastas are often charming! Orecchiette are ‘small ears’ and are most often used for vegetable sauces. Perfect.

Here’s what happened.

Made some bread crumbs by grating some bread.

Bread crumbs.

Bread crumbs.

Toasted the bread crumbs in a fry pan with some olive oil.

Toasted bread crumbs.

Toasted bread crumbs.

While that was happening, chopped some bacon.

Bacon.

Bacon.

Got the cauliflower out of the fridge and cut it up.

Cauliflower.

Cauliflower.

Chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic.

After the bacon was cooked, the cauliflower and garlic went into the pan.

Add the cauliflower and garlic.

Add the cauliflower and garlic.

While the cauliflower and garlic were cooking, started cooking the pasta.

Orecchiette.

Orecchiette.

Finished cooking.

Stopped cooking the cauliflower and bacon when it looked like this.

Stopped cooking the cauliflower and bacon when it looked like this.

When the pasta was cooked, it was added to the cauliflower and bacon and mixed with some reserved liquid from draining the pasta.

Orecchiette is added to the cooked cauliflower and bacon.

Orecchiette is added to the cooked cauliflower and bacon.

The pasta mixture was sprinkled with with bread crumbs and Parmesan and served.

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs.

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs.

This recipe came from The Serious Eats website.
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/11/dinner-tonight-orecchiette-with-cauliflower-b.html

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs

Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, thicker stems removed
3/4 lb dried orecchiette or cavatelli pasta
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan

Procedure

Bring a large pot of salty water to boil for the pasta. In the meantime, prepare the cauliflower and grate bread for crumbs, if necessary.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 and a half tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, then add the bread crumbs. Toast, stirring often, until golden and slightly crisp. Remove to a small bowl and wipe the skillet clean.

Cook the bacon in the same skillet over medium-high heat a few minutes until the fat renders, then add the cauliflower pieces, garlic, and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring only very occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the cauliflower is caramelized and golden.

In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente, reserving a cup of pasta water. Drain and add pasta to the skillet, tossing to combine. Add olive oil and pasta water as needed to achieve a rich, slightly creamy consistency.

Serve with a shower of breadcrumbs, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

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