Monday, March 15, 2010

211. Orecchiette with Cauliflower and Lacinato Kale (p. 213)

I learned something surprising from making this recipe*: My fourteen-month-old son will eat cauliflower ... and kale ... and ANCHOVIES!

To cook this dish, I first made some fresh breadcrumbs by tearing up an Italian loaf and pulsing the pieces in the food processor until they were coarse crumbs. I toasted the crumbs in the oven for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they were nice and golden.

Then I cut up a head of cauliflower and cooked it in boiling water until it was very tender. I removed the cauliflower from the water with a slotted spoon, and scooped out about a cup of the cooking liquid and set it aside. Next I coarsely chopped a bunch of kale and boiled it in the remaining cauliflower cooking liquid. The Book says to use Lacinato kale. The sign at the mega mart just said "Kale," so I don't know whether what I bought was Lacinato kale or not, but The Book's Glossary says "Regular kale can be substituted," so I guess it doesn't really matter what kind of kale I ended up with. Once the kale was tender, I drained it and set it aside with the cooked cauliflower.

Then, I put the pasta in to boil. I couldn't find any orecchiette, so I used medium shells since they're the closest I could find in terms of size and shape. While the pasta cooked, I made the sauce. I heated a whole bunch of olive oil over medium-low heat in my largest skillet. I cooked some thinly sliced garlic and some anchovy fillets for just a couple of minutes until the anchovies broke apart. Then I added the cooked cauliflower and mashed it lightly, but leaving some chunks still intact. I stirred in the cooked kale, some chopped fresh parsley and some of reserved cooking liquid. After it just came to a boil, I seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper, and took it off the heat.

To finish off the dish, I stirred the drained pasta into the sauce and I added some more fresh parsley and some grated Parmigano-Reggiano. I scooped the pasta into bowls and topped each serving with a generous sprinkling of the toasted breadcrumbs.

This was the perfect Sunday night supper. It's an easy enough recipe that making it is not a big production, but it's still unusual enough that it's "something special." The mashed cauliflower gave the dish an almost creamy texture. The kale was just slightly, but pleasantly bitter. The breadcrumbs were an excellent, crunchy touch. And the anchovies were barely detectable in that there was no fishy flavor, but I'm sure that the dish's briny savoriness was all due to the little fishes. Like I said at the beginning of this post, my son loved this meal ... at it by the fistful! The Book calls for the addition of a Serrano chile, but I left it out since I was going to be serving this to my son, I didn't want it to be too spicy. The Book notes that cooks in Italy use red pepper flakes in this dish instead of the Serrano, so I sprinkled a little over my serving, and it gave it a nice spicy bite.

Date Cooked: March 7, 2010
Degree of Difficulty: Pretty Easy
Rating: A-

* This recipe isn't online.


The Mediocre Cook said...

That's awesome to hear your son enjoyed it! My oldest son will kick and scream if anything green comes near his plate but he will devour shrimp and calamari like it's candy. Amazing what a child's taste buds are like. Glad to see a post!

Gila S said...

In my experience, Lacinato/black/dinosaur kale needs to be hunted down at specialty stores or farmers' markets. If it was a regular green, bought at a regular grocery store, it was probably regular kale.