Friday, October 31, 2008

PESD with Recipe for Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce

Between the US presidential contest and Alaska’s senatorial election, I’ve developed a severe case of PESD (Pre-Election Stress Disorder).

Even when I’m not compulsively checking my favorite political websites, the upcoming election dominates my thoughts. Since I can’t seem to write coherently about food, I’m officially giving up until after November 4.

Though writing is beyond me, I’m still cooking dinner every night. One of my favorite recent meals was Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce, a dish I created to honor the gorgeous, creamy-white cauliflower that arrived in last week’s CSA box.

Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce is delicious and gives cauliflower the attention its wonderful flavor deserves. (One day, when I’m fully recovered from PESD, I’ll explain why steaming or boiling cauliflower is almost always a mistake.)

And for my American readers, please vote!

Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce
Serves 4
The anchovies in the breadcrumbs are optional, but their salty flavor nicely complements cauliflower. The amount of rosemary needed will depend on how strongly flavored your rosemary tastes.

Cauliflower Sauce:
1 cauliflower
2 cups diced yellow onions, 1/2” dice
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 – 3 tsp. minced rosemary
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Spiced Breadcrumbs:
3 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
6 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs or
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 pound
gemelli, fusilli, or other dried pasta

1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup chicken stock, plus more as needed
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese

Make the Cauliflower Sauce: Wash the cauliflower, cut out the stem and discard it, and break the cauliflower into florets. Roughly chop the florets.

Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until the onions soften and start to turn golden. Stir in the chopped cauliflower, rosemary, and Aleppo pepper, and cook over medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and starts to caramelize.

Make the Spiced Breadcrumbs: While the cauliflower is cooking, puree together the garlic, Aleppo pepper, and anchovies (if using). Toss the puree with the breadcrumbs until they are thoroughly combined. Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt (if using anchovies, which are salty, it may not be necessary to add salt). Sauté the seasoned bread crumbs over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are crispy. Pour the crumbs onto a plate to cool.

Make the Pasta: Puree the garlic and salt together; this is easiest to do with a mortar and pestle. Whisk the olive oil into the garlic and salt. Boil the pasta in boiling salted water until it is al dente; be careful not to overcook. Drain the pasta and immediately mix in the garlic oil.

Finish the Dish: Stir the pasta and garlic oil into the cooked cauliflower. Stir in the currants, and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Let cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until the pasta is heated through. If the pasta is too dry, add a little more chicken stock. Stir in the fontina and half the parmesan cheese.

Divide the Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower Sauce between four plates or pasta bowls, sprinkle with spiced breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.
This is my entry for the third anniversary edition of
Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by its creator Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.


Kalyn said...

Believe me, I know just what you mean about PESD! I'm coming down with a monster of a cold and I think it's directly related to election stress.

Love the sound of this. I discovered not long ago that I really like anchovies, and I think they would add the perfect touch to this dish!

Peter G said...

Welcome back Laurie! Love the dish and it really is a unique way to enjoy cauliflower. I especially love the spiced breadcrumbs.
Good luck with the choices you guys make in regards to the election...


this is what our sicilian neighbour served us a little while back, with the addition of pine nuts - i would never have thought that these ingredients could be mixed together...

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Even here in Rhode Island, where all but the local elections are a foregone conclusion (too bad we have so few electoral votes!), it's an exciting season. I can just imagine the frenzy in Alaska!

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels said...

This is a delicious recipe. I do something similar but you left no stone unturned. Love the addition of anchovies.
BTW, what is a CSA box?

Maria said...

What an amazing dish! I just made a cauliflower and pasta dish the other day that I was going to post about, but it had nowhere near the dimension of flavors yours must have had. What a great combination of ingredients!

Simona said...

I've got a bad case of that too. Your pasta dish sounds wonderful and I am a big cauliflower fan. I am looking forward to reading your personal take on this vegetable.

Cheryl said...


Cheryl said...

I meant to write more than "yum" but I have little people around that don't like me on the computer:) Anyway, I'm not really suffering from PESD because over here, I pick and choose when I want to overwhelm myself with all of the political coverage. I remember the last presidential election that was stressful for me.:)

Bijoux said...

I really enjoy cauliflower but my husband doesn't so I don't get to eat it as often as I would like. Normally I steam it or roast it. This recipe for spicy cauliflower sounds tantalizing. I guess my husband can just have a peanut butter and fig jam sandwich for dinner instead.

Peter M said...

I've been meaning to try cauliflower with pasta, and I love both so.

I'll also wait for your thoughts on boiling/steaming cauliflower.

On to the vote, make it count!

Shayne said...

for months I have been keeping up with every story and argument against my canadate. I was stressed, not getting anything done and not sleeping, cooking or blogging. a few weeks ago I decided enough was enough and I will let anyone who wanted to believe nonsence to believe it. I am back to blogging and life is good again. I can't wait for the 4th to come and go.

Paula said...

Love this recipe, especially the heat from the pepper! Hmmm ... there is an unsuspecting head of cauliflower in my fridge right now. :-) I dropped off my ballot last night (Oregon -- it's so easy to vote here), and felt positively lighthearted afterward! Also, my phone has at last stopped that incessant ringing with all the political messages!

The Blonde Duck said...

I just have to say I find your blog fascinating! My dad works for a company in Alaska, and I've been lucky enough to tag along with him a few times. Beautiful!

Laurie Constantino said...

Kalyn, anchovies are such a wonderful flavoring. They add good flavor without standing out too much. As for the election, I'm so happy with how it turned out.

Peter, thanks! Lucky for the world, we made a good choice this election season.

Maria, it's good, isn't it! Funny you mention pine nuts as my husband said, "we should try this with pine nuts - i bet they'd be good in it." Next time I'll add them.

Yes, the Alaska elections were - hmmm - interesting. Embarrassing too.

Foodalogue, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and refers to a weekly or biweekly subscription to vegetables from a farm. In my case, the subscription is from Full Circle Farm( an organic farm outside Seattle that ships boxes to Alaska.

Maria, I think we're tracking in our food choices!

Simona, now I just need to buy another cauliflower just so I can write about it.

Cheryl, you're not sorry you missed the election coverage. But it all turned out okay in the end, so all the stress was worth it this time

Bijoux, your husband is definitely a picky eater!

Peter, I think you'd like it!

Shayne - I wish I had been as disciplined as you to be able to stay out of the fray. I read today the Chinese are classifying excessive internet use as a diagnosable illness - after the last month, I completely understand why. I'm so glad it's over.

BlondeD, thank you! I'm glad you liked Alaska and hope you make it back again!

Bijoux said...

Laurie, I made this pasta dish tonight and it was delicious!! Even though I had no currants to add (I subbed pine nuts instead) and i had no fontina either, it was incredibly tasty! The sardines I used were from the island and they added the right amount of salt so I chose not to sprinkle parmesan on top of the pasta. My husband who is not a big fan of cauliflower really enjoyed this dish too. I'm definitely making this again. Thanks!!

Laurie Constantino said...

Bijoux, I'm so glad you liked it (and I actually made this with sardines from the island too!).

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