A few years ago I was attending a business dinner at a fine Italian restaurant and saw cauliflower ragu on the menu. I'd never heard of it before and, I admit, it sounded a bit odd. But, given my lifelong fondness for cauliflower, it was a sure bet I'd order it. And I promptly fell in love.
I do like to learn to make my favorite restaurant dishes at home, though, so I decided to tackle the ragu. I've found a few different recipe variations and I'm not sure which I had tasted. In the end, I took bits and pieces from what I found, added my own spin and came up with a winner. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Ingredients (4 Servings)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 Shallot or small onion, peeled and diced
- 4 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 Head cauliflower florets
- 1 Cup chicken stock
- 1/2 Cup milk or cream
- 1/4 Cup white wine (optional)
- 1/2 Cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 lb. Ziti pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add two tablespoons of the olive oil to a large saute pan along with the onion and garlic. Cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes just until the onions are translucent.
Add the cauliflower florets and continue cooking on medium heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add the chicken stock and milk or cream. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
Puree half the mixture in a food processor and return to the pan. Stir in the thyme and cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta as per package directions, drain and return to the pot. Pour the cauliflower sauce over the pasta. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan the sauce was in and heat on low. Add the breadcrumbs and stir for a few minutes until the oil has been absorbed and the breadcrumbs are slightly brown. Stir into the pasta. Serve hot with a bit of extra cheese on top, if desired.
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