Rigatoni & Cauliflower Al Forno

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I love it when my husband puts the New York Times Dining section at my “spot” at the kitchen table and says, “Why don’t we have this for dinner?”!!  Sometimes life is so much easier when someone hands you a plan! If you didn’t already guess, that is the story of this meal. 🙂 This dish was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I increased the amount of garlic and cauliflower, and used panko instead of coarse breadcrumbs. Cheesy and tasty.

  • 1 pound rigatoni or other large pasta shape
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped sage, plus a few (3) sage leaves left whole
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated fontina or mozzarella
  • 2 ounces finely grated Romano cheese or other hard pecorino
  • ½ cup panko or coarse dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Cook the rigatoni in well-salted water according to package directions, but drain while still quite al dente. (If directions call for 12 minutes cooking, cook for 10 instead.) Rinse pasta with cool water, then drain again and set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom. Cut out tough core and stem any extraneous leaves. Lay cauliflower flat side down and cut crosswise into rough 1/4-inch slices. Break into smaller pieces.
  3. Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add cauliflower slices, along with any crumbly pieces, in one layer. (Work in batches if necessary.) Let cauliflower brown and caramelize for about 2 minutes, then turn pieces over to brown the other side. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. It’s fine if some pieces don’t brown evenly.
  4. Season browned cauliflower generously with salt and pepper. Add capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, sage leaves and lemon zest and stir to coat.
  5. Put cooked cauliflower mixture in a large mixing bowl. (I used my cooled pasta pot to create fewer dishes!) Add cooked rigatoni and fontina and toss. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish. Top with Romano cheese, then with panko or bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. (Dish may be completed to this point up to several hours in advance and kept at room temperature, covered.)
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until top is crisp and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley before serving.

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About Josette@thebrookcook

I live in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. I love garlic and baking. My hobby (and love) is to try new recipes. My favorite recipe resources include The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Enjoy!

14 responses to “Rigatoni & Cauliflower Al Forno

  1. That does sound good. Your husband can pick ’em! And I’m in complete agreement about how lovely it is when someone else has a meal plan and all you have to do is produce it. Bliss!

  2. Sue

    Haha, my husband does that all the time! My Dad also is ruthless with my mom, it’s like she runs a restaurant with him!!! Him as the customer that is. But here we have yet another creamy dish of pasta deliciousness from you . . . you are my favorite pasta chef. David Tanis is wonderful, too . . . so no nonsense. Looks great Josette!

  3. Josette, pasta :). Love this interesting pasta with cauliflower and lemon and capes going on together. What an interesting combination of flavors with salty fontina. Just brilliant. A perfect fall dish.

  4. You had me at cauliflower! And yes, sometimes it seems the inspiration for a dinner is the hardest part of cooking!

  5. What a wonderful pasta dish–it looks so good!

  6. I love pasta and cauliflower! Lovely dish.

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