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Pasta with cauliflower

Serves 4

Use any cauliflower -- white, green, or even purple -- with equally delicious results. Cut the cauliflower into small florets. During cooking, they will fall apart and blend into the sauce.

1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
2/3 cup olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper, or more to taste
Salt, to taste
1 pound dry rigatoni pasta, preferably imported from Italy
5 stems fresh parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

2. While the water is heating, place the florets in a large bowl of cold water to soak. When the water comes to a boil, transfer the florets to the boiling water and for cook 6 to 7 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

3. Use a strainer or slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower from the water. Do not discard the cooking water. Keep it at a low boil until you are ready to cook the pasta.

4. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and the red pepper and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the florets with salt. Stir gently. Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook, still stirring, for about 10 to 15 minutes longer or until the cauliflower is tender.

5. Meanwhile, bring the cooking water back to a rapid boil. Add salt and the rigatoni. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite.

6. Drain the pasta into a colander and add it to the pan with the cauliflower. Stir well to combine. Add the parsley, taste for seasoning, and add more salt and red pepper, if you like. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve with Romano cheese.

Judith Barrett

More from the Boston Globe:
 PASTA WITH CAULIFLOWER: Cooking lessons from Rome
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