Pasta is central to Italian culture. And although I love to serve it with vegetables, I have to admit, Cauliflower isn’t one of my favorites. However, my family likes it. As a result, I try to find different ways to work it into meals that are less “offensive” to me. This new pasta dish does just that and it’s a sure fire winner. Simple, easy and with a depth of flavor you might not expect, it’s delicious and quite versatile with wine.
Pasta con Cavolfiore
1 pound Penne, Rigatoni or Orecchiette
4 oz. Diced Pancetta
1 pound Cauliflower, steamed and diced
1 1/2 cups seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
That’s a pretty simple list! Ok, Ok…. you need extra virgin olive oil too.
In a pan large enough to accommodate the finished pasta, begin by rendering your pancetta over medium to low heat. This will take some time but will release amazing flavor into the finished dish. Utilize 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to start the process.
Once the pancetta has rendered its fat and begun to brown, add the panko breadcrumbs and “toast” until they turn a deep golden brown color. Be careful not to burn these as that will ruin the dish. Once browned, pull the pan off the heat until the pasta is almost cooked.
For this recipe, I used a shortcut that is well worth the time savings. I had a bag of chopped cauliflower that was steamable in the bag. It was perfect for this recipe. I steamed it for 90 seconds and then diced it up into small pieces. Then, add it to the pan and toss to coat.
As the pasta cooks, slowly return the pan to the heat over a low flame. If the cauliflower seems dry, add some extra virgin olive oil. However, bear in mind that you will add about 1-2 cups of the reserved pasta cooking water to the finished condimento.
Once the pasta is finished, drain directly to the pan with the condimento. Toss through, check for seasoning and serve. Pass Pecorino Romano Cheese at the table. The smokiness of the pancetta and the zip of the Pecorino are amazing and the panko adds remarkable texture.
So, what did we drink? After my recent Zoom call with proprietor Elisabetta Geppetti of Fattoria Le Pupille, I was sent a sample of their lovely vino bianco. First produced in 1997, Poggio Argentato is a unique white blend from the Tuscan Maremma. From vineyards that are close to the sea and sit about 200 meters above sea level, the wine’s hallmark is a pronounced minerality.
The 2019 Fattoria Le Pupille Poggio Argentato is vibrant and fresh and a great harbinger for the wonderful 2019 vintage. A unique blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Petit Manseng, 10% Traminer and 5% Semillion Poggio Argentato sings with a wonderful Tuscan accent.
Pale gold in the glass, the wine’s aromas feature crushed lemon, pineapple, white peach and flowers. It’s so pretty to smell. On the palate, the balance and finesse are wonderful. Trace minerals permeate the fruit throughout. Zippy lemon, fresh lemon grass, shaley minerals and white peach notes are delicious. Given the unique blend, so too is the wine uniquely produced. The varietals spend 6 months in stainless steel with the exception of the Petit Manseng which spends 3 months in 500 liter French Tonneaux. I loved this wine and with fish, oysters, the dish provided above or by itself, I think you will too. A nice value from a great winemaker. 90 points. Find this wine.
Shop around – a few key strokes shows this wine anywhere from $15-$19. Toward the lower end, the value is notable.