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Food Network Favorites: Penne with Cauliflower

From the Mario Batali chapter in Food Network Favorites , where frankly I'm having trouble finding recipes that I want to make. It may just be a seasonal problem; many of Batali's recipes call for heavy, meaty ingredients like osso buco, leg of lamb, pork chops, or veal meatballs (2 different recipes!). I might find some of these dishes more appealing in November when it's cold and brisk outside, but right now it's 95 degrees and leg of lamb isn't sounding too good.

I'll be testing the three lighter-sounding recipes in this chapter, and then I'm moving on to the last two chapters in the book. (The two remaining chefs: Michael Chiarello and Wolfgang Puck.)

This pasta isn't anything to write home about. it's a simple sauté of tomatoes and cauliflower tossed with penne and parsley. The texture was a bit dry and the flavors weren't terribly exciting. The recipe works; it's just kind of boring.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: about 30 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, OR 4 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (about two 28-oz. cans plus one 14-oz. can)
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/2 cup very hot water
1 pound dry penne
2 bunches Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/2 cup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated caciocavallo, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or pecorino cheese

In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add garlic. Cook gently until softened and light golden brown. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they begin to break down. Add the cauliflower and stir well. Add 1/2 cup hot water, lower the heat to medium, and cook about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook according to package directions. Drain.

Add the drained pasta to the pan with the cauliflower. Stir in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss for 1 minute over high heat. Divide evenly among 6 pasta bowls, top with cheese, and serve immediately.



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