Monday, March 21, 2011

Cavatappi With Roasted Cauliflower, Olives, Garlic Confit And Toasted Bread Crumbs

I love pasta! No matter the shape, or the preparation or the other ingredients, I love pasta! It’s a comforting versatile food staple that is uncomplicated and quick to cook. It’s the perfect canvas that is stable enough to stand up to layers of flavors without loosing it’s integrity and it can hold it’s own when paired with sauces ranging from a light garden fresh tomato sauce to a luscious rich cream sauce.

A member of the cabbage family, cauliflower may be white, green or purple. A one cup serving of cauliflower has about 30 calories and is an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as folate and has 3.35 grams of dietary fiber. A very good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), tryptophan, omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). And a good source of potassium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin), magnesium and vitamin B3 (niacin). When selecting cauliflower look for firm compact heads and fresh leaves.

In honor of St. Joseph’s Day, I took culinary liberty with combining ingredients commonly found in several of the dishes served at a St. Joseph’s Day Feast.

Cavatappi With Roasted Cauliflower, Olives, Garlic Confit And Toasted Bread Crumbs:

For the garlic confit:
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few gratings of nutmeg
Simmer on very low heat in a small sauce pan for 1 hour. Do not brown.

For the toasted bread crumbs:
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
Gently toast in a dry saute pan until nicely browned, stirring often. Set aside.

For the roasted cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower cut in small flowerets (about 8 cups)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup large green olives sliced in to 8 slices
Toss all ingredients (except the olives) on a sheet pan and roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add olives, stir and roast for 10 minutes longer.

For the pasta:
1 pound Cavatappi
Boil pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Please do not over cook.

For the garnish:
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fennel leaves
grated Romano cheese
toasted bread crumbs
olive oil for drizzling
freshly ground black pepper

To plate:
Drain pasta and gently toss with cooked cauliflower and garlic confit. Spoon into warm pasta bowls and sprinkle with lemon zest, fennel leaves, Romano cheese, toasted bread crumbs, a drizzle of your best olive oil and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Buon appetito e Viva San Giuseppe!