Recently I was given Mario Batali's Molto Gusto Easy Italian Cooking book. The book has great recipes for antipasti, pizzas and pastas, and upon my first flip-through I was really eager to make Batali's cauliflower ragu. The ragu called for an entire head of cauliflower, an onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, rosemary, olive oil, butter and one pound of pasta (I used gemelli.)
I was surprised to find out that the recipe called for the entire cauliflower, including the leaves and core. I cut up the florets into bite size pieces, and chopped the rest of the cauliflower into small pieces. The core and leaves were cooked first for about 30 minutes with a bit of oil, the onion and cauliflower.After the mixture had softened, I added the florets and cooked covered for another 30 minutes.
In the meantime I cooked the pasta in a separate pot. When everything had softened up and the florets were almost falling apart, I added the butter, red pepper flakes, parmesan and the cooked pasta. I also added about 2/3 cup of the starchy water from the pasta pot to loosen up the mixture.
Finally, I sprinkled the top with fresh breadcrumbs and rosemary from the garden.
This dish was delicious. I didn't know what to expect throughout the process because the mixture looked kind of ugly in the pot. All of the cauliflower pieces cooked down and were soft, and the dish was a nice, light summer addition to a meal of barbecued chicken and salad. The only thing I would do differently next time is that I would add a bit less red pepper flakes, as the dish was quite spicy this time.
Batali has some really great pizza ideas in his book, and since I have been into making my own pizzas lately maybe I will try one of his topping combos soon.