Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How do you say Vegan in Italian?

Ah, there are many answers to that question. But the one for this week is Pasta al Cavolfiore ed Estratto! Miki and I were talking about the absence of butter, eggs, cream and cheese in the vegan palette for cooking. I know there are substitutes but we decided to try to find a recipe that stood on its own.

The Italian cooks do wonderful things with their vedura/vegetables combining them with fresh herbs and and some unusual companions. A few weeks spent in Sicily many, many summers ago introduced me to the antipasti tradition unlike we are use to here. Each small restaurant we went to had a table on one side of the room with large platters of every kind of vegetable that was in season prepared in different ways and served at room temperature. These dishes far outnumbered the meat and cheese platters. If you chose to have the antipasti you would help yourself from that table. Fantastic.

As there was a lovely head of cauliflower in the fridge just waiting to be nurtured into something wonderful we found this recipe for Pasta with Cauliflower and Sun-Dried Tomato Paste. It stands beautifully on its own, no cheese recommenced as it would conflict with the sweetness of the sauce.

It is delizioso and was even better the next day for lunch. Buono Appitito!

1 head cauliflower, cut into quarters
4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion diced
4 TBS sun-dried tomato paste
3 TBS raisins
2 TBS pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 LB imported pasta (we used whole wheat)

Cook the cauliflower in salted water until crisp. Lift out of water, drain and cut into small flowerets. Reserve cooking water for the cooking of the pasta.

Combine olive oil, diced onion and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking water and continue cooking onion until gold and tender. Add tomato past, 1 cup of reserved water and stir well. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add cauliflower, raisins, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Cook covered over low heat for 30 minutes. You may add water up to 1 cup until sauce becomes a course puree. Season again with pepper.

Cook the pasta in the remaining cauliflower cooking water adding more if needed.

Place pasta in a bowl, drizzle with sun-dried tomato olive oil and toss. Add sauce to pasta and toss. Let rest a minute or so and toss again before serving. Cheese is not needed for this dish.

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