Sunday, January 4, 2015

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce 

I know it's January, and that means resolutions, healthy eating, and no carbs.  Thus, I bring you a cheesy, creamy, baked pasta dish.  Sorry not sorry.  There is cauliflower in here though, so… it balances out, right?  In all seriousness, this is a decadent, hearty, filling, and comforting dinner.  One that will definitely stick to your ribs on a cold winter night.

This is a pretty basic baked pasta dish, with just a few add-ons that catapult it into the "super delicious" category.  First, the spicy pink sauce.  A simple marinara sauce is amped up with the addition of a little cream and some red pepper flakes.  The rich cream pairs nicely with the spiciness from the pepper.  Secondly, it uses fontina instead of mozzarella, which gives it a slightly creamier, more complex flavor. Finally, the addition of cauliflower not only adds a textural counterpoint to the soft and tender pasta, but it balances out some of the richness as well.  I served this as a vegetarian main course, but I think some spicy sausage would be great it here as well, or even just served alongside the pasta.

Despite having several components, this does come together pretty easily.  However, I see no reason why you couldn't assemble it ahead of time and bake it when you're ready for dinner.  Just add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

And then have a salad on the side.  Because you know, resolutions and all.

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce 

Baked Rigatoni with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce
barely adapted from Fine Cooking
serves 6 to 8

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb dried pasta, such as rigatoni or corkscrews
  • about 4 cups small cauliflower florets (from 1 large head)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese (about 10 oz)
  • 2 oz freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano (about 3/4 cup)

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F . Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with 1 Tbs. olive oil.

    Pour off 1 cup of juice from one of the cans of tomatoes and discard it. In a blender or food processor, purée both cans of tomatoes with their remaining juice and set aside.

    Heat the remaining 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    Add the puréed tomatoes and cream (be careful; it will splatter), plus the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the sauce thickens slightly. Taste for salt and pepper and remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

    Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot pot or Dutch oven of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and cook  until it’s al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. During the last 2-3 minutes of cook time, add the cauliflower and cook with the pasta.  Drain well and return to the pot.  Stir in the tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups of the Fontina cheese.  Mix well to combine.
    Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Top the pasta with the remaining 1 cup Fontina and then the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Bake uncovered until the cheese is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


    Josie said...

    This is such a yummy and easy looking weeknight meal! Love the sounds of that sauce!

    Josie said...

    My NY resolution definitely involves making this for dinner this week. Definitely.

    Josie said...

    Made this last night for my husband, parents and brother. Enjoyed by all! (And we had a half plan left over despite 5 adults eating it!) Thank you for yet another good vegetarian recipe! :)

    Josie said...

    Yay, so glad you liked it, Amy! It is pretty insane how much this makes -- leftovers for days, ha!!

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