Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Raisins, and Capers

After watching Gordon Ramsay's BBC show The F Word, I was inspired by his dish of seared Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, and Raisin-Caper Sauce. I know Jean-Georges has an exact replica of this dish at his flagship restaurant, so not sure who made this first or if this was some famous old school combo. Any who, this combination totally made sense to me and I knew this would be a perfect combo for a pasta dish. It really eff'n worked well as the cauliflower added some mild sweetness and a little texture, while the capers added the saltiness (and oddly meaty quality) and the raisins added a nice punch of sweetness. The clam juice adds that salty seafood thing that the scallops provided which rocked with the pasta. Any who, a pretty friggin ridiculously flavorful pasta dish and maybe one of the top 5 pastas I've ever made.

1/2 head of cauliflower - florets cut up of equal bite size pieces
1 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup capers
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 bag spaghetti
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/4 cup clam juice
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

1) Start a pot of water to boil - heavily season with salt.

2) Saute the cauliflower over medium high heat with some olive oil in a large saute pan or wok. The key is to not touch the cauliflower in the first 5 mins of cooking so it caramelizes well - a key to making this dish flavorful. Season with salt and pepper

3) Add the other vegetables into the pan. Cook the onions for 5 minutes, then the garlic, capers, and raisins for 30 seconds.

4) Add the liquid ingredients in to the pan. Clam juice and broth not only adds complexity of flavors to the sauce, but it also helps breakdown the cauliflower. Drop the pasta into the boiling water, while you cook the cauliflower down. Cook the cauliflower until it is to your liking. I like it on the firmer side - the cauliflower is easily cut with a fork, but with a little resistance - maybe another 5 to 10 minutes.

7) Add pasta to the pan with all the other ingredients when the pasta is about 1 minute from being finished. Cook over high heat with a cup of the starchy pasta water. Stir around until the pasta is finished cooking and you get a creamy sauce from the broth and pasta water - pretty magical. If it's too dry add more pasta water, but if it's too liquid cook it down some more.

8) Finish the pasta off the heat with extra virgin olive oil, parmigiano-reggiano, and pine nuts. When plating, add a tad more olive oil and cheese. Buon appetito!

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