whole wheat pasta with cauliflower, walnuts and ricotta salata

April 4th, 2008 · 513 Comments

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people, i know what you’re thinking. but i’m telling you – do not fear the whole wheat pasta. i totally understand that it’s not for everyday, and that it’s not a substitution from hereon in. it is quite simply, an entity unto itself… and this dish really is a whole wheat pasta kinda dish. and quite honestly, when alice waters talks? this pasta lover listens… and yes, there are brands and there are brands… and dear readers, if it wasn’t a rainy day i would so go out and buy 9 different kinds of ww pasta and boil them all up separately and do a ww pasta taste test for you. but i know you wouldn’t want all that high humidity and precipitation to ruin my perfect coiffe and makeup. so you’ll have to go it on your own. but anyway, for the record i used ‘de cecco’s penne rigate’ and we liked it just fine.

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(a fine ww pasta, if i do say…)

i had read deb’s post over at smitten kitchen and then ordered alice’s book, chez panisse vegetables. since spring is about to bust forth from mother earth and once again i will dealing with the over abundance of locally grown produce, this would be a good time for some of alice’s inspiration on the vegetable front. when i got to cooking, i used just one large head of cauliflower and half the pasta and it served 4 easily.

whole wheat pasta with cauliflower, walnuts and ricotta salata
chez panisse vegetables
by the one and only alice waters

2 heads cauliflower
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1 pound whole-wheat pasta
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
white wine vinegar
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
grated or crumbled ricotta salata

put a large pot of water on to boil. cut the cauliflower into small flowerets. peel the onion and slice it very thin. peel and finely chop the garlic. put the pasta on to cook. saute the cauliflower in olive oil in a large saute pan. when the cauliflower begins to soften, season with salt and pepper and add the sliced onion and red pepper flakes. saute over medium to high heat until the vegetables are brown and tender. the cauliflower should still be slightly crunchy and should not taste steamed. add the garlic and remove from the heat, tossing and stirring so the garlic doesn t burn; if it starts to brown, add a splash of water. add a few drops each of vinegar and lemon juice and the toasted walnuts. taste and correct the seasoning. when the pasta is done, drain and add to the cauliflower, adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the pasta thoroughly, toss together and serve, with the cheese crumbled over the dish.

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every single ingredient in this dish shines unusually brightly. it is somehow the classic example of the whole being better than the sum of its parts. i’ll be making this again.

a rarity when you’re a food blogger…

Tags: pasta

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