The Puglia Kitchen | pasta e cavolfiore (pasta and cauliflower)

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Pasta e cavolfiore | pasta and cauliflower

Cauliflower with pasta is a revelation. As with most or our region’s cuisine it is made using a combination of simple ingredients, but the taste far exceeds its simplicity.

Preparation | 25 minutes
Cooking | 30 minutes
Serves | 4 - 6 (depending on whether you have it as a primo piatto or as your main)



1 large cauliflower broken into small florets (1kg | 2¼lb)
500g | 1lb 2oz capunti or cavatelli (broken macaroni will do)
100g | 3½ oz smoked pancetta or speck
12 cherry tomatoes, diced (we prefer to squeeze out some -but not all - of the seeds)
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil, extra to drizzle
1 dried chilli, crushed
grated altamura cheese (or Parmesan), to serve
salt and pepper, to taste


Break up the cauliflower into florets and add to a large pasta pan with boiling salted water. Cook for 5 minutes until tender, then scoop out with a slotted spoon, leaving the water in the pan to cook the pasta. Do not let the cauliflower go mushy!

Add the pasta to the boiling cauliflower water according to the cooking time recommended on the packet, until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, sliced. If you have trimmed excess fat from the meat, fry this now with the sliced garlic, over a medium heat, until browned. Don’t overcook - the garlic will become bitter.

Remove the fried garlic and browned fat and discard (sometimes we keep the fried garlic to crush and season a salad). Add the cubes of pancetta or speck, tomatoes and chilli (if you want only a little heat, remove the seeds before crushing) to the oil and fry for 2-6 minutes until soft.

Add the cauliflower to the sauce just before the pasta is ready. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, drizzle with olive oil, stir and season.

Altre cose?

The pasta is interchangeable, and we from time to time we use orecchiette- the pasta shape most associated with our region.

Nigel Slater has a recipe for orecchiette, cauliflower, cheese.

Sometimes, for seasoning, we add a small anchovy when frying the meat, tomatoes and chilli. That’s a matter of taste

More | read The Big Guide to Puglia’s Food Festivals | Food & Drink


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