The cauliflower here is cooked until it is tender enough to start to fall apart a bit and combine with the liquid to make a delicious sauce.
The red pepper flakes are optional; they are ill-advised for those who dislike spice but essential for those who like it. No worries if you’re taking a pass—there’s plenty of flavor to be had in other corners of this recipe. This dish works well with a bright, fresh salad or it can serve as a one-dish meal. The choice, as always, is yours.
- 1 pound spaghetti rotini, or pasta of choice
- 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes optional
- 1/3 cup dry white wine chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- 6 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- Prep and cook time: 40 minutes
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta until just not quite tender to the bite—you’re going to cook it a bit more in the sauce, so you want it just a tad underdone. Scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta, and set it aside.
- While the water comes to a boil, trim the cauliflower. Separate into florets, cutting them into smaller pieces as needed, and cutting or slicing the core into bite-size pieces. Peel and thinly slice the garlic.
- Heat a frying pan or saute pan or pot large enough to hold the cauliflower and the pasta over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil, swirl it around, and add the garlic and red chile flakes. Cook until the garlic is just barely starting to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the wine or broth and the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the cauliflower is wonderfully tender, about 10 minutes.
- While the cauliflower cooks, remove the parsley leaves from their stems and roughly chop the leaves (discard the stems or reserve them for another use).
- Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking liquid and the pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender to the bite and the sauce has reduced and thickened. If the pasta needs more cooking, add more pasta-cooking liquid as needed. When the pasta is tender, stir in the parsley.
- Divide the pasta between individual plates or bowls. Garnish with black pepper to taste and parmesan.