Cauliflower Bolognese

This healthy, hearty, and tasty vegetarian dish is from one of Bon Appétit’s “healthy-ish” issues. It initially had a mixed reception from the meat lovers in my house because the sauce closely resembled meat sauce in appearance and texture- but not in taste, of course. They gobbled it up in the end. 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I increased the amount of garlic, used freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce (and to reheat leftovers). I served it with roasted asparagus. Yum.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 12 oz mushrooms, such as shiitake or crimini, stems removed
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2¼ lbs), broken into florets
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 to 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 chile, such as serrano, Holland, or Fresno, thinly sliced, or ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T finely chopped rosemary
  • ⅓ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 3 T finely chopped parsley
  • freshly grated zest of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  1. Pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out food processor bowl.
  2. Working in 3 batches, pulse cauliflower in food processor until pieces are about the size of a grain of rice (some smaller and some larger ones are fine), transferring to a medium bowl as you go.
  3. Heat ¼ cup oil and 2 T butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 4–6 minutes.
  5. Add onion and 2 T oil to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
  6. Add garlic, chile, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and mixture is very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add cauliflower and cook, yes, still stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is cooked down slightly and begins to stick to bottom of pot, 6–8 minutes.
  9. Season with salt, then keep warm over low heat.
  10. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with sauce.
  12. Add Parmesan, remaining 2 T butter, and 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and sauce is clinging to pasta, about 3 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
  14. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt (it’ll probably need another pinch or two).
  15. Finely zest lemon over pasta and toss once more.
  16. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more Parmesan, then drizzle with oil.

Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchiette

I have two versions of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes to share. This is the broccoli-loaded “healthier” version.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Adam Rapoport. I increased the amount of broccoli, modified the proportions, and used sweet Italian sausage. It was a quick and tasty weeknight meal.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of broccoli florets
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 12 to 14 ounces fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage (about 3-4 links), casings removed
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 14 to 16 ounces orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving

  1. Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a colander and let cool (save pot of water for cooking pasta).
  2. Chop broccoli into small pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic, shaking skillet occasionally, until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add sausage and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and break up meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up sausage, until it is browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  5. Bring reserved pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until barely al dente, about 9 minutes (set a timer for 3 minutes less than the package instructions; it will cook more in the skillet).
  6. Meanwhile, ladle about ½ cup pasta cooking liquid from pot into skillet with sausage and add blanched broccoli. Keep mixture at a low simmer, stirring often and mashing with spoon to break up sausage even more, until pasta is finished cooking.
  7. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, then ladle in ½ cup pasta water. Cook, stirring, until pasta absorbs most of the liquid and is just al dente, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add butter and stir until melted, then transfer pasta to a large bowl.
  9. Gradually add 1½ oz. Parmesan, tossing constantly until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce.
  10. Serve pasta topped with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of oil.

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