After a couple of sunny and relatively warm days, it is once again snowy/icy/freezing rain-y and cold. I guess it is still winter. I guess I still have excuses to make luxurious comfort food. I guess I won't be able to button my jeans by spring. *Oink.*
Oh yes. Oink. The creamy, cheesy pasta dish On My Plate today is oinking with bacon. Cauliflower also swirls around in the garlic sauce, but trust me, telling yourself that the cauliflower cancels out the bacon only works until you try to button your jeans.
However, PLEASE (pretty please with bacon on top) don't let that stop you from comforting yourself on a cold evening with some Cauliflower Rigatoni. You can forget about the falling snow and icy streets and frigid temperatures when this Alfredo-like pasta dish warms you. It is rich and hearty and the kind of comfort food that you can even share with guests. This is why they make sweat pants, right?
(adapted from Food and Wine)
3 ounces bacon, cut into 1" pieces (or more if you are an oinker like me)
3 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound rigatoni
One 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
In a medium skillet, fry the bacon until crispy.
Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
To the bacon drippings add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden.
Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly.
Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook the until al dente; about 6 minutes before the rigatoni is done, add the cauliflower florets to the pot. (This is a bit of a multi-tasking dish, but nothing is too difficult.)
Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the panko bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
Return the rigatoni and cauliflower to the pot.
Add the garlic cream, the bacon and the reserved pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated.
Pour the pasta into a large shallow baking dish and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top.
Broil for about 2 minutes, rotating constantly, until the topping is evenly browned. (Serves 4)