Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cabbage Flowers and Little Ears - Orecchiette al Cavolifiore

I love Cabbage. All forms of Cabbage. From Brussel Sprouts, Kohlrabi and Savoy to Kale, Broccoli and Bok Choy. But one of my favorites is the humble looking Cabbage Flower; known more often as Cauliflower. And while I love the multicolored varietals that are available later in the season such as Orange, Green, Purple and Romanesco with it's lovely fractal pattern, my favorite is still good old white variety. It's a comforting reminder of simpler times of my youth when I use to consume massive quantities of Cauliflower with Cheese sauce. YUM.

I suppose it's a good thing I loved cauliflower as a kid. It's high in Fiber, Folate, Vitamin K and Vitamin C. As a member of the Cruciferous it also contains phyto-chemicals such as sulforaphane, an anti-cancer substance and several others that improve the livers ability to filter out carcinogenic substances. On top of that it also contains indole-3-carbinol which acts as an anti-estrogen compound, slowing the growth of Breast and Prostate tumors. In fact, high intakes of cauliflower has been shown to reduce the risk of Prostate, Bladder and Colon cancer. Pretty cool for a Caulis (Latin for cabbage) Flower. Of course the colored varieties have their own specialties. The Orange variety is higher in Beta Carotene, the Purple types contain anthocyanin, like "Red" Cabbage.

This recipe is designed in the same vein as that oh so delicious Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce, though the cheddar has been replaced with Pecorino Romano and a little heat has been added by some Red Pepper Flakes. It is also quick and simple to prepare, as the cauliflower and orecchiette (little ears) are boiled together to meld the flavors. Delicious!

Orecchiette al Cavolifiore

1 head of Cauliflower (any color)
1 lb Orecchiette or Conchiglie
4 oz Olive Oil
3 oz Unsalted Butter
1 Shallot, Minced
1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
3/4 tsp Red Pepper Flake
Salt & Pepper
3 oz Pecorino Romano, Shredded

First, Take your cauliflower and remove the green leaves (you can save those for vegetable stock if you like)

Oh, don't forget to place a large pot of water over high flame to bring it to a boil.

Cut the florets apart into bit sized pieces.

Once your water comes to a boil, Salt it and drop the Cauiflower and the Orecchiette into the pot for 8-9 minutes.

Immediately combine Olive oil and Butter in a skillet and place it over medium flame.

When hot, add the shallot and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add the minced Garlic and Red pepper flake and saute and additional minute.

Drain the Cauliflower and the Pasta and place in a large bowl for tossing.

Add the Oil/Butter/Shallot mixture and toss to coat everything well.

Then add the Pecorino Romano and toss until melted then season with Salt and Pepper as desired.

Serve with more Pecorino OR, to kick up the heat, add a little more pepper flake.



Michele said...

This looks great!!!

Shane T. Wingerd said...

Thanks Michele! :)

Patti T. said...

I seem to be stuck in a rut, every time I think of a veggie that goes good with pasta like this I always come up with broccoli, but this would be great. Just love the shape of the orecchiette, the little ears.

Unknown said...

i LOVE cauliflower and this looks absolutely wonderful!!!