Orecchiette with Caramelized Cauliflower, Shallots, and Herbed Breadcrumbs
This recipe for orecchiette with caramelized cauliflower, shallots, and herbed breadcrumbs comes from "Scott Conant's New Italian Cooking."
- 1/2 head cauliflower, stemmed and separated into tiny florets (about 4 cups)
- Coarse salt
- 1/2 cup dry unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs, preferably panko
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, flakes
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup (heaping) thinly sliced shallots (about 6 shallots)
- 3/4 pound orecchiette pasta
Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt, and return to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until just tender. Immediately transfer cauliflower to ice-water bath; let cool about 1 minute before draining.
Combine the breadcrumbs, mint, parsley, red pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until crumbly and well combined; set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt and return to a boil.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the orecchiette to the boiling water and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Add drained pasta to skillet, along with cauliflower, and some of the pasta cooking liquid, and toss ingredients together for a few minutes; add more water to the pan as necessary to keep pasta moist.
Divide pasta evenly among 4 bowls. Sprinkle each with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.