Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pasta Maddalena

For a printable version click here
Pasta Maddalena

½ cup pignoli nuts

½ cup soft breadcrumbs (homemade preferable)

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thin

4 large cloves of garlic sliced

1 large head of cauliflower (cut into small florets)

3 large fresh tomatoes (peeled and crushed) or 1-½ cups of tomato sauce (homemade or jarred, not canned)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

¼ cup dry sherry or white wine

1/3 cup currants or equal amount raisins

1 or 2 heaping tablespoons basil pesto

1 pound short pasta

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small dry non-stick skillet, toast pignoli nuts until golden and set aside.

In same non-stick skillet add 1 Tablespoon oil and toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown.

Set breadcrumbs aside to cool and then stir in grated cheese. Put this mixture aside.

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil and cook onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes more. Add the cauliflower florets, tomatoes/sauce, tomato paste, stock, dry sherry and currants. (If using raisins add at end of cooking time.) Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil pesto. Adjust final seasoning of salt and pepper.

Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum).Image via Wikipedia

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt to taste. Cook pasta according to directions and drain.

Toss the pasta with the cauliflower sauce and serve in individual plates. Allow each guest to garnish with breadcrumb and cheese mixture, then top off with pignoli nuts.
Serves 4-8 depending if used as main or side dish.

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