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Cauliflower, Bacon, & Breadcrumb Pasta

October 24, 2011

by Emily

Co-blogger Liz is my own personal recipe data-miner. After searching the interwebs and, shockingly, my actual cookbooks for an appealing pasta recipe and coming up completely short, I mentioned to Liz the few specific ingredients I was looking for and bingo! Not kidding, literally seconds later – poof! – she sends the perfect recipe. Now that is talent. Sometimes I shy away from pasta recipes because I am not the biggest fan of rich cream sauces and honestly, sometimes tomato sauce just doesn’t do it for me. This pasta recipe is meant to be be creamy without the heaviness while still providing great flavor. While it might be a different kind of heavy, let’s be honest, you can’t argue with a little bacon or pancetta to make cauliflower (or anything, right?) a million times more appetizing.

Cauliflower, Bacon, & Breadcrumb Pasta
adapted a touch from Serious Eats

1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, thicker stems removed
3/4 lb dried pasta (I chose pappardelle)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup bread crumbs, toasted (I used Panko)
1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly grated Parmesan

Prepare the cauliflower and toast breadcrumbs and pine nuts in a skillet or oven.

Cook the bacon or pancetta in a 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 according to package directions 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, pine nuts, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.


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