whole wheat fettuccine with roasted cauliflowerphoto courtesy of Jenise McLean

Sara Moulton is so cool.  I am not saying this just because we went to the same university or because she worked at the Del Rio and includes the recipe for the Det Burger in her cook book.  I am saying it because she has the most unpretentious style and is such an approachable, entertaining and engaging person.   I’m sad that I didn’t know her when she was a student in Ann Arbor but glad that I got to meet her when she was invited to University of Michigan as a guest speaker.   Yes, she is every bit as charming in person as she is on TV.

And, her recipes are wonderful.  Every now and then I like to take a recipe from a cookbook and adapt it to be used with Al Dente Pasta.  Sara used farfalle in this dish.  I use Al Dente Whole Wheat Fettuccine especially so I can prove that nearly any pasta recipe works with Al Dente.  As you all know, I love roasting cauliflower, so this recipe was right up my alley.  (Sara, I hope you’ve tried Al Dente Pasta.  It’s available at Fairway Market but of course I’d be happy to send you some!)  P.S.  I added the garlic and the parsley.

Pasta with Cauliflower and Sauteed Bread Crumbs

adapted from Sara’s Secrets for weeknight meals

Kosher salt

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 lb. pancetta or bacon, chopped

12 oz. Al Dente Pasta

1.5 cups chicken broth

parsley for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450 F and put large pot of salted water on to boil.  Toss cauliflower wiht 2 Tbsp. oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.  Arrange in one layer in a shallow roasting pan and roast until caramelized and tender, approx. 15 minutes.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add bread crumbs and garlic and saute until golden.  Transfer crumbs to a plate.  Add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and the pancetta to skillet, cooking over medium heat until the pancetta (or bacon) is crisp.  Turn off heat.

3. Cook Pasta for 3 minutes, until tender but firm.  Drain and toss in skillet with cauliflower, chicken broth and bacon over low heat until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in crumbs and garnish with parsley.

Improvisation is always encouraged so what about also garnishing with toasted pinenuts or sliced almonds.  Or, how about green olives?  Parmesan cheese is always delicious so go for it.