A Sarcastic Appetite


Pasta with Chicken, Cauliflower & Mustard Breadcrumbs
November 30, 2010, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Sfoglia has a little gem on its menu right now – well, actually, many gems, but tonight I will concern myself with just one: “mezze rigatoni, cauliflower, truffle, taleggio.” There’s something magical about such a stinky cheese; remember Missy Robbins’ taleggio-filled pasta with chanterelles at A Voce Columbus? If this doesn’t ring a bell, get thee to a cheese shop. Buy a wedge, slather it on some crackers, and you’ll understand. Just crack open a window while you’re at it, so your neighbors don’t think you’re growing a dirty sock farm.

Anyway, Sfoglia’s rendition, with rigatoni and cauliflower, was as stinky and delightful as it sounds. The breadcrumbs added a crunchy layer and the sauce was creamy and highly caloric – just what I needed the night after Thanksgiving! Oh, wait.

I thought about recreating it at home, but procuring truffles is not so high on my to-do list these days. Luckily, I needed to look no further than the November issue of Bon Appétit: an updated version with mustard and lemon in place of truffles, and a simpler sauce that wouldn’t stink up the place. Taleggio, I’ll miss you….but I’ll see you at my next cheese plate, so I’m not too worried about it.

This recipe is also incredibly simple, and wins serious brownie points for requiring the cooking of two separate things (pasta and cauliflower in this case) in one measly pot. The pasta gets drained (save a bit of water!) and then thrown back in the pot, where it’s tossed with some cream, lemon zest, plenty of salt and pepper, and some cheese. Add some chicken for protein, but feel free to omit it if you don’t have a crazed dietician living with you who demands a balanced meal without excessive lactose. Unfortunately that eliminates stinky sock farms.

Penne with Chicken, Cauliflower & Mustard Breadcrumbs

Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe. Serves 4.

8 oz. penne (about 2 1/2 c.)

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size florets

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. mustard

3/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, cubed (about 1 1/2 breasts)

1/2 c. heavy cream

3/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

(1/2 c. pasta water)

lots of salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the mustard, then add the breadcrumbs. Cook, tossing occasionally and stirring to remove clumps, about 10 minutes, until they’re crunchy and golden brown, then set aside. Boil some water in a big pot and cook the pasta until it’s about 5 minutes away from being ready to go. At the 5 minute mark, throw the cauliflower in there and cook about another 5 minutes, until it’s all fork-tender and the pasta is cooked. Reserve 1/2 c. of the water, then drain the pot. Toss the pasta and cauliflower back into the pot with the reserved water, cream, chicken, lemon zest, and cheese. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Stir together until the sauce coats the pasta, then serve in shallow bowls with several tablespoons of breadcrumbs scattered across the top. 

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1 Comment so far
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Might be a nice alternative to the cauliflower au gratin for Christmas sans chicken!!!

Comment by Jacque




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