Thursday, April 2, 2009

Penne Pasta with Multi-Colored Cauliflower and Gorgonzola

One of my favorite produce items to show up at the Spring market is multi-colored cauliflower. Purple, orange, light green, and white, these cauliflowers are stunning to look at, leaving you baffled by Mother Nature's ability to make food naturally beautiful.

Cauliflower in general is considered royalty in my cooking repertoire. When truly farmers market fresh (I have never met a large chain grocery store cauliflower I liked), this sweet and slightly nutty vegetable can be served raw in a crudites spread, with pasta, gratin style, sauteed, and anything else you can imagine. The trick is to not over cook it! I think boiling is bad for almost any vegetable, but especially cruciferous ones that tend to let off that unpleasant, old cabbage smell. So steam or blanch quickly.

Cauliflower loves the company of strong, salty flavors such as black olives, gorgonzola, capers, curry, and red chili flakes. I decided to go with rich and creamy gorgonzola cheese, which, when mix with a little cream, makes a terrific sauce, filling each little penne tube and perfectly covering each cauliflower floret. Make sure to cut the cauliflower about the same size as the pasta. I taught this pasta at my Mediterranean Harvest cooking class at Edna Valley Vineyards. Someone suggested a little tarragon as a garnish to this pasta. I tried it tonight, along with parsley and chives, and it was fantastic!

Penne Pasta with Multi-Colored Cauliflower and Gorgonzola
Serves 4

-8oz dry, short style pasta such as Pipe Rigate, Fusilli, or even orzo
-2-3 cups chopped multi-colored cauliflower
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, diced
-1 large clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup heavy cream
-3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
-Salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste
-Chopped flat leaf parsley, chives, and a little tarragon to garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente. Remove the pasta from the water with a slotted spoon (save the boiling water), toss with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside. Bring the pot of water back up to a boil and blanch the cauliflower until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add in the diced onion. Sauté the onion until it begins to soften around the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté one minute more. Pour in the cream and bring to a simmer. Let simmer about 1-2 minutes to slightly reduce. Whisk in the gorgonzola to create a smooth sauce. Add in the cooked pasta, and cauliflower. Heat through and season to taste with salt and fresh ground white pepper. Garnish with minced fresh Italian parsley, chives, and a small amount of fresh minced tarragon.


Jen said...

Hi Correne! Thank you so much for your support! I'm thrilled to find a fellow food blogger/new mom so close to home. Your blog is beautiful and I'm so excited to explore every bit of it!!!!!

Correne Quigley-Faysal said...

Thanks Jen! Hopefully we could meet sometime!