Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Pretend BFF

Did you know that Mario Batali was born and raised in Seattle? Just a little bit of Wednesday trivia, -not that I'm obsessed with him or anything... much. Anyway, I've been feeling pretty lazy the last few days, but I had already gotten the groceries for a few Mario Batali meals, so might as well get my butt into the kitchen to make us some dinner. What's on the menu? Pennette with Cauliflower Ragu! It doesn't necessarily sound very appetizing, but the picture in Molto Gusto evoked childhood memories of going to a restaurant to taste my very first restaurant-made Italian food. However, I have to say that something kind of fun and kind of silly occured. As I was dissecting the cauliflower as per Mario's instructions, I realized that I was having a lot of trouble chopping and kept having to get up on my tip toes. I solved this problem by breaking out my highest heels. It was very Desperate Housewives of me, but it made my life easier and my shoulders much more comfortable.

I looked ridiculous, but I don't care.
Mario Batali's Pennette with Cauliflower Ragu:

1 medium cauliflower (2 lbs)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed & peeled
Maldon sea salt (or any flaky sea salt)
2 tsps hot red pepper flakes
6 tbsp unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
pinch of Kosher salt for pasta water
1 lb pennette
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
1/2 cup of coarse fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced (but I wasn't in the mood for it so I skipped it)

Alright, once I had my high heels on, I halved the cauliflower, cut off the leaves and put them aside for later. I then cut out the core and chopped off the stalks, put them aside with the leaves. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets, set aside in a bowl. Next, chop up the core, stalks and leaves.

Combine the oil, onion, garlic, leaves, stalks and core in a large pot, season with Maldon salt and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently until the leaves start to wilt. (it will smell so good!) After 3 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook until the leaves are tender, which is about 20 minutes.

I don't know. I thought if I posed with the spoon, you'd believe I cooked it.
While you are softening the cauliflower, start your fresh bread crumbs. I took a small hunk of leftover Pugliese bread (enough to make 1/2 cup of bread crumbs) and sliced it up into tiny crouton-sized pieces with my bread knife. In a pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, and once it's hot, add the bread crumbs and stir it until it's lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool in a bowl.

Add your cauliflower florets, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of water to the rest of the cauliflower mixture, and bring it to a simmer on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and stir occasionally until the cauliflower is very soft and almost falling apart. (20 minutes) Add the butter and stir it in until it's melted. Remove from heat.

Before adding the butter.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, add a pinch of Kosher salt (Mario says 3 tbsp, but I'm not comfortable with that). Cook until al dente. Drain your pasta water but make sure to reserve 2/3 of a cup. Add the pasta and 1/3 of the water to the cauliflower ragu and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. Add a bit more of the pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce a bit. Stir in your cheese.

Serve and sprinkle with the fresh bread crumbs and a sprinkling of cheese. Mmmmm, thanks Mario!


  1. You're hot
    this looks yummy
    Mario Batali is going to go down!

  2. It was really good and gave us two dinners plus two lunches! Not bad for 8 bucks! Come here and make me some zucchini fritters please...

  3. yummmm
    darn that makes your buck go far!
    hahah oh i will when I get there :)
    Which I hope is soon.