Orecchiette with Cauliflower

(Orecchiette con Cavolfiore)
This unusual pasta recipe, from The Best of Bugialli (Stewart, Tabori & Chang,1994) by Giuliano Bugialli, is both easy to cook and easy to like.

Orecchiette with Cauliflower
This recipe calls for orecchiette pasta—shaped like "little ears," it adds a unique twist to this simple dish.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower, about 2 1⁄2 lbs., green leaves removed
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 12 cup olive oil
  • 5 whole anchovies packed in salt, boned and rinsed, or 10 anchovy filets packed in oil, drained
  • 1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 20 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, leaves only, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Put cauliflower in a large bowl of cold water and soak for 1⁄2 hour. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Add salt to taste.
  2. Cut cauliflower into florets, discarding stems. Put florets into boiling water with garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Drain cauliflower, reserving cooking water. Transfer to a bowl until needed. Discard garlic.
  3. Heat oil in a large casserole over medium heat, remove from heat, add anchovy filets, and mash with a fork. Meanwhile, bring cauliflower water back to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water, cook until al dente (9-12 minutes), and drain.
  4. Transfer pasta to casserole with anchovies, stir over medium heat, add cauliflower, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes, parsley, and serve.