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Penne with Cauliflower Ragu

Penne and spaghetti are two favorite pastas used in Sicilian dishes. Cauliflower is known as broccolo. Prepared as a sauce for pasta, it is a healthy and nice alternative to tomato based sauces.

Serves 6-8 as a first course

Ingredients

3 cups small cauliflower florets from a medium size head cauliflower

5 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 anchovies in oil, drained and chopped

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons capers in brine, drained and chopped

1/4 cup raisins that have been soaked in warm water

1 pound penne

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs or grated Pecorino cheese

Directions

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Toss the florets with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and transfer them to a baking sheet.  Roast them until they are lightly browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

Or place the florets in a steamer basket and steam for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from basket and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they soften. Stir in the anchovies and hot red pepper flakes and cook until the anchovies dissolve. Add the capers and cauliflower and stir well.

Drain the raisins and add to the sauce. Cover and keep warm while the pasta cooks.

Cook the penne until al dente in 4 to 6 quarts of boiling salted water. Drain and add the penne to the sauce along with 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Warm the mixture until hot then transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the pine nuts and either the bread crumbs or cheese.

Variation:  A few saffron threads dissolved in the cooking water and added to the sauce is also common.

This recipe is featured on show 2311 - Pasta as You Like It.

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