Melissa Rubel from Food & Wine Magazine, uses a few shortcuts to make her creamy baked pasta. She starts by boiling the cauliflower and rigatoni together in one pot. Then, for a quick and supercrispy topping, she sprinkles the dish with Parmiagiano-panko crumbs, and broils it. The topping browns perfectly in only two minutes. F&W Magazine, 02/2008 - From World's Best Pastas.
- 3 1⁄2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3⁄4 lb rigatoni pasta
- 2 (1 3/4 lb) cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 3 ounces cooked crispy bacon (don't make the bacon pieces too small)
- Preheat the broiler.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Add the garlic & crushed red pepper, if using, and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes; season with salt and frshly ground black pepper.
- Cook the rigatoni until al dente; about 6 minutes before the rigatoni is done, add the cauliflower florets to the pot.
- Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the panko with the Parmigiano cheese and the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Return the rigatoni and cauliflower to the pot.
- Add the garlic cream, the crispy bacon and the reserved pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated.
- Scrape the pasta into a large shallow baking dish and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top.
- Broil for about 2 minutes, rotating constantly, until the topping is evenly browned.
- Serve hot with a cherry-rich red blend: 2005 Capezzana Barco Reale.
One of our all-time favorite dishes. Easy to make and full of flavor.
My husband loves cauliflower, while I am not such a fan. I am always on the lookout for ways that might make it a hit for both of us. This dish, although loaded with calories and very rich, was a winner. It was like an Alfredo pasta with the cauliflower and bacon tossed in. Hubby had 2 HUGE helpings. This is comfort food that could even be served to guests.