Pasta with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

October 27, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine this month and since it has fall vegetables paired with some of my favorite aromatics and ingredients, I thought I’d give it a try.  I thought it sounded good, but was delighted by how delicious it was – it way outstripped my expectations!  Of course, I made adaptations – I can’t help but tinker!  I thought this would be too difficult to eat with bucatini, so instead used a my favorite small pasta shape, fusilli bucati.  I think other small pasta shapes would be excellent, or you might want to try the bucatini of the original recipe.  (Actually, I think this would make a great side vegetable dish without the pasta.) You might be inclined to skip the toasted breadcrumbs, but I would advise against this.  They added both flavor and texture and, to me, really made the dish.  A bonus is that this took only about 30 minutes start to finish!  We served this with roasted salmon and an Italian Orvieto white wine.  I will definitely make this again!

Ingredients

The Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
The Pasta
3/4 pound small pasta shapes
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
The Vegetable Mixture
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound cauliflower florets, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large (about 3 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Finishing
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving

Directions

In a small skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/4 cup of the oil on medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add the cauliflower and brussels sprouts and season with salt and black pepper.  Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the oil to the skillet along with the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, rosemary and thyme; cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat until the cauliflower and sprouts are tender, about 3 more minutes. Keep warm.

Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the vegetables and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the water is nearly absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup of grated cheese.  Serve the pasta in wide bowls, passing the bread crumbs and additional cheese at the table. (Alternatively, you can skip stirring the cheese into the pasta and add it instead to individual servings along with the bread crumbs.)

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