This pasta dish is very different and surprising and absolutely delicious. Don’t tell your family what’s in the sauce, they won’t believe you anyway!
The trick to making this sauce is allowing enough time for the cauliflower to cook so that it will be soft and mash to a smooth paste. When blended with the onions that were fried until golden, the flavor is reminiscent of chicken.
The inclusion of the raisins and pine nuts hints of this recipe’s Jewish origins. The use of olive oil instead of butter is also a clue because Italian Jews 500 years ago would use oil instead of animal fat to make a dish kosher or to render it pareve.
Try this dish, I promise you’ll love it!
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2-teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ pound sweet onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 3Tablespoons dark raisins
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-pound rigatoni
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or to taste (optional)
- Combine the cauliflower, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower from the pan and place in a processor work bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid. You should have about 1/3 cup liquid reserved. Pulse the processor on and off until the cauliflower is a smooth puree. Set aside.
- Heat a large, non-stick frying pan for 20 seconds. Add the oil and heat for another 10 seconds. Sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.
- Add the pine nuts, raisins, and salt and pepper to taste to the onion mixture and stir for 2 minutes or until nuts begin to turn golden.
- Add the pureed cauliflower and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid to the onion mixture and simmer until thick for 15 minutes stirring often. If the mixture is getting too dry, add more of the reserved liquid to prevent sticking. When mixture is done, set-aside until ready to serve.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water to which 1 Tablespoon of olive oil has been added. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.
- Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the pasta and toss. Place remaining sauce over the pasta. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese, and serve.