Cauliflower and anchovy orecchiette

Over the last month or so, as I’ve been religiously reading and cooking from the weekend supplements, I have found two things to be true.

The first is that there are some really super, often quite original recipes to cook from.

The second is that, whilst those recipes make for a nice weekend project and are a spark for cooking new things, they also lead to leftovers. I don’t mean leftover cooked things. Rather, if you decide to follow one of Nigel, Yotam and co’s weekend work, it’s quite likely you’ll find yourself with odd ingredients looking for a purpose. I suppose this is the case with cook book recipes too.

On the one hand, this could be seen as a negative. All that proactive weekend activity basically left you with what will inevitably become food waste, as you slip back into the weekly routine of dinner al desco or ready made tortellini and pesto.

But on the other (and this is the position I take), you get set a new, derivative challenge. What else can you use half a tin of anchovies for? How can I make the most of a bunch of thyme?

Which means one unintended but necessary result of my ‘Supplemental‘ cooking, is that I now need to be even more inventive at home. I will, from time to time, show you the spoils of my problem solving.

Take, for example, the weekend of the 25/26 January, when I made Stevie Parle’s raw cauliflower salad. It was lovely. But it also left me with 3/4 of a cauliflower, plus the greens (which are awesome – you should always use them).

As it happens, Stevie’s recipe had also forced the purchase of some parmesan, and I also had much orecchiette left over from a previous weekend recipe. What followed was a roasted cauliflower, anchovy and parmesan kinda carbonara. Blooming great.

Roasted cauliflower is a super thing – all nutty and caramelised. Those greens added colour, crunch and freshness to an otherwise brown (if comforting) dish.

Recipe below the parmesan’d pic.

cauli pasta

Cauliflower and anchovy orecchiette

For 2

  • 450g cauliflower
  • 8 salted anchovies
  • Oil from the anchovy tin
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 40g pine nuts
  • 150g cauliflower greens
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan
  • 10g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 240g orecchiette

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Take apart your cauliflower.

First, carefully cut the greens away from the base. All but the most knackered bits can be used (in this recipe or otherwise). Separate the very lightest, daintiest leaves that are found nearest the flower – these don’t need to be blanched. Slice the biggest leaves into max 7/8cm lengths and then in half down the stalk.

Then remove the florets. You want slightly larger than bite size here, so may need to cut some in half. The core tastes great too – chop it into cubes of a similar size to the florets.

Put the white cauli bits in a roasting tray. Pour the rapeseed oil and also the oil from your anchovy tin over the veg. Ensure the pieces of  cauliflower are evenly coated, then sprinkle over a healthy amount of salt and pepper. Toss once more. Put in the oven for a total of 50 minutes – by which time the florets will be golden, soft and nutty. Give the tray a mix a couple of times during the cooking period.

With 20 minutes to go, boil water for the pasta and put plenty of salt in. At 15 minutes, drop the pasta in and cook for the time recommended on the packet (8-11 minutes probably). Then add the anchovies, pine nuts and garlic to the cauliflower tray. Mix. Put back in the oven.

Test the pasta. When it’s very nearly ready, drop in the thicker bits of cauliflower greens and cook for 30 seconds more. Drain. Put everything back in the saucepan, but keep this off any heat.

Add the cauliflower, anchovy and pine nuts. Mix gently. Wait for a minute, then add the eggs, 90% of the parmesan, butter and the non-blanched cauliflower leaves (if you’re doing this for more people, wait for 2-3 minutes before adding the eggs – otherwise the residual heat of the pasta will scramble them). Stir to ensure the pasta is coated and put a lid on the saucepan. Wait two minutes. Serve. Then sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and perhaps a glug of oil. Eat.

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