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Home : Side Dishes : Fresh Cavatelli With Cauliflower

Makes 6 Servings
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Fresh Cavatelli With Cauliflower

Contributed by: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich of Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

"Waste Not, Want Not" and Make it Delicious!

By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, Author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

There is no more appropriate time than now to think about how and why we cook. Food is a way of connecting with the people who surround us. Through it, we communicate emotions like love, compassion and understanding, and there is no better opportunity to communicate with our children than at the table. It's where we can discuss our values of life that are important to us as individuals, as a family and as a part of the world we live in.

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As overconsumption and greed have come to haunt us, now is a time for reflection. We should be looking back at the generations before us to understand their approach to the table. Growing food, shepherding animals, foraging for the gifts of nature is all part of respecting food. Nothing needs to be wasted. Bread can be recycled and used in soups, casseroles, lasagnas and desserts. Water is carefully conserved as in the pasta recipe I share below where the same water in which vegetables are cooked is used to cook the pasta that follows, and then that is saved for soups or for making risotto.

When one respects the food we prepare, it also leads to a more sensible and balanced intake of proteins, legumes and vegetables.

So "waste not, want not" and make it delicious!

Excerpt from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

Maccarun ch'I Hiucc

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, and I regret that many people don't sufficiently appreciate its unique flavor and nutritional value. This is not the case in Molise, where it is cooked often and creatively, as exemplified by the following two simple vegetarian pasta dishes. This recipe, maccarun ch'i hiucc, is zesty with garlic and peperoncino.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 plump garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut in small florets
  • 1 batch (1 1/2 pounds) Fresh Cavatelli (preceding recipe), or 1 pound dried pasta
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino (or half pecorino and half Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, for a milder flavor)

Directions:

Recommended equipment: A large pasta pot; a heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan, 12 inch diameter or larger

Fill the large pot with salted water (at least 6 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt), and heat to a boil.

Pour the olive oil into the skillet, set over medium-high heat, and scatter in the sliced garlic. Let the garlic start to sizzle, then toss in the peperoncino and parsley; stir and cook for a minute. Ladle in a cup of the pasta cooking water, stir well, and adjust the heat to keep the liquid in the skillet simmering and reducing gradually while you cook the cauliflower and pasta.

With the pasta water at a rolling boil, drop in the cauliflower florets, and cook them for about 3 minutes, until barely tender. Drop in the cavatelli, stir, and return the water quickly to a boil. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is fully tender and the pasta is al dente (if you are using dried pasta, it will, of course, take longer).

Lift out the florets and cavatelli with a spider or strainer, drain briefly, and spill them into the skillet. Toss well, to coat all the pasta and vegetable pieces with the garlicky dressing, then turn off the heat, sprinkle over the skillet the grated cheese, and toss again. Heap the cauliflower and cavatelli in warm bowls, and serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 6 Servings


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