Monday, November 06, 2006

Cauliflower pasta

I've noticed that cauliflowers are looking really lovely at the moment – I guess they must like the cold weather. I thought I’d make a Franco family classic for tea tonight. It always goes the same way. Robert calls me at 11am and asks me what I'm going to be making. He wants me to say steaks or roast pork. I say in an encouraging voice that it’s cauliflower pasta and he quietly says 'oh'. Then when it's tea time, he clears his bowl, says how much he enjoyed it and goes back for more. You see, it tastes a lot better than it sounds.

Anyway my mum has made this forever and me and sister and brothers all make similar versions of it.

Serves 4
1 cauliflower
500g packet chunky pasta shapes such as penne or conchigle
1 tbsp olive oil
2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, roughly chopped
freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Cut the cauliflower into small florets adding the smaller tender green leaves too. Cook in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes then add the pasta and continue to cook for 12 – 15 minutes according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small non-stick frying pan and cook the bacon, onion and garlic for 5 minutes until golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes until softened and pulpy. Add a ladle of the cooking water, stirring to moisten the tomato mixture then season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and cauliflower quite loosely so the cauliflower retains some of the moisture then return to the pan. Stir in the bacon mixture and divide between bowls. Top with crispy crumbs, if you like.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook a handful of fresh white breadcrumbs over a medium heat, shaking the pan until crisp and golden. It's important to do this at the last minute so the crumbs sizzle as they land on top of the pasta.

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