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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."

  • Servings: 4

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, February Fall 2007


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt and return to a boil.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Divide pasta evenly among 4 bowls. Sprinkle each with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

Reviews Add a comment

  • pmelros
    9 JAN, 2009
    Why use two large pots with water, I like to cook the pasta in the same water as the cauliflower, makes the pasta taste better and less waste of water. Whats with the mint in so many recipes?? over powers the flavors, in my opinion, tastes great without it.