Pasta with Cauliflower Da Leo

My interpretation of the pasta my husband had for lunch at Trattoria Da Leo in Lucca, Italy.  It’s not exactly the same but it’s still damned good. I like to use cauliflower when it’s in season because I think it’s sweeter, but this can be made anytime and will still be a great dish of pasta. I’m in love with the look of Romanesco cauliflower and think it would be fantastic in this sauce!

Makes 4 Servings

1 small cauliflower_DSC1989 nx2 2016
¼ cup EVOO (you can use up to 1/2 cup of oil)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/8 – ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ lb. Italian sweet sausage, skin removed & crumbled
½ cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Passata or 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano or 3 – 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
12 oz. to 16 oz. Casarecce pasta (or any short type pasta)

Place a serving bowl in a 180 F oven to warm.

Wash & trim the cauliflower; separate into small flowerets. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 Tbsp. salt.

Meanwhile, heat EVOO on medium heat in a large sauté pan & cook the onion until soft; add the sausage, breaking up lumps with a fork until no longer pink & just lightly browned  Add the garlic, parsley & red pepper flakes; sauté for a minute then add the chopped sage. Stir in the wine & reduce by half & add the tomatoes; continue cooking for a few minutes, reducing  longer if using fresh tomatoes. Add the cauliflower; cover the pan & continue cooking over low heat for about 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Add the cream & cook for a few minutes more. In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water; drain the pasta.  Add the cooked pasta to the cauliflower sauce & toss for a minute or so to coat with sauce, adding pasta cooking water if it appears too dry.  Remove from the heat & add freshly grated Parmigiano. Place the pasta in a large heated bowl & serve.

 To see how to prepare the tomatoes, click Peeling & Seeding Tomatoes.

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