Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Speck

November 8, 2011

Ok I confess. I’ve been totally whoring myself on carbs lately like nobody’s business. If it ain’t rice or noodles, it’s pasta that I’ve been frequently dumping my face into and most of the time, while sitting on my tired arse in front of the tv. Pasta is no doubt, my never-fail tv dinner.

With summer roaring in, it’s definitely too crazy for pasta with heavy sauces. Don’t get me wrong, I would die without my ragu bolognese but I ain’t no masochist in this heat so lighter options are now my favourites, such as those that are simply tossed in olive oil and fresh ingredients (such as this citrusy number).

I know it’s easy to dismiss a plain jane vegetable like cauliflower but there’s so much pleasure to be had if it’s cooked properly to retain its natural sweetness (big fat no no to bland ‘choking hazards’ in stir fries!). Yes it’s a damn bitch to cut those giant heads into gob-friendly sized florets and even more tedious to clean up its debris.

But trust me it’s worth it. Especially when you toast it until it’s gloriously golden and caramelised. And it doesn’t stop there. Add some smokey, salty speck, a burst of lemon, a touch of chilli and garlic (or in my case, a sadistic hit) and then finally, finish it off with a healthy lashing of parsley and there you have it; TV dinner at its most awesome.

Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Speck
Serves 4
This is more of a guide than an exact recipe so go nuts with it. Use your favourite pasta, add more or less cauliflower/speck, go crazy with garlic or chilli if that’s your thing, make it more citrusy, change up the herbs (chives maybe?) or use a different cheese. Play with it however you wish.
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Ingredients
  1. 400g dried spaghetti
  2. 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  3. 30g butter
  4. 2 Tbl of olive oil
  5. 250g speck, rind removed and cut into batons
  6. 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (depends on your garlic tolerance level)
  7. 1 small red chilli, deseeded finely chopped
  8. 1/4 cup of white wine
  9. Zest of one lemon
  10. 1 Tbl lemon juice
  11. Flat-leaf parsley
  12. Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water and drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add a splash of olive oil to the pasta and toss to coat to prevent from sticking together while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until foamy then throw in the cauliflower florets. Season with a little sea salt and sauté until cauliflower is cooked and toasty brown and caramelised (about 10 minutes). Remove the cauliflower and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in the same pan over medium heat then fry the speck until browned. Throw in the garlic and chilli and cook until the garlic is lightly browned.
  4. Deglaze pan with the wine and cook until wine is mostly reduced then add the zest, lemon juice and cooked cauliflower.
  5. Add in the cooked pasta and toss well to coat in the sauce adding the reserved pasta water bit by bit for lubrication if you need it. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and remove from heat.
  6. Roughly chop up as much parsley as you like then toss through the pasta. Grate some parmesan over, put your feet up then greedily tuck in (directly from the pan if you feel so inclined).
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