Growing up, cauliflower was generally presented to me smothered in cheese sauce and baked in the oven. It's delicious and still is a real family favourite. However, the wonderful nutty flavour that a simple cauliflower develops when roasted is a joy that I didn't discover until a few years ago. Cauliflower is widely available all year round, although they are at their peak in spring and autumn, they are a real workhorse during those drab months when not much seems to be in season.
Using preserved lemon in this dish is a real treat, the intense lemony, slightly salty flavour adds a real umami element. It's feels befitting to use traditionally preserved ingredients at the time of year when you need them most.
I'm also adding a herby pangrattato as a topping to this dish, it's adds a lovely crunchy texture, but is not essential if you're pushed for time.
Making pasta dishes is a bit like having a blank canvas in front of you, I love building up different flavours and texture to create a finished dish that tastes amazing. It's really important to make sure you have the best possible pasta as your base, it makes such a difference and the extra investment needed for good pasta is really small.
This is a real store cupboard dish, many of the ingredients you may well already have, tucked at the back of your fridge or hiding in the cupboard.
Ingredients for 4
1 x Medium Sized Cauliflower, cut into florets
½ Dried Chipotle Chilli, chopped into small pieces
4 x Cloves Garlic, sliced
4 x Anchovy Fillets, chopped (substitute capers for a vegetarian dish)
1 x Whole Preserved Lemon, flesh and white removed, finely chopped
A splash of white wine, around 50ml
Two ladles of pasta cooking water
125ml Double Cream
A good sized bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
100g Hazelnuts, Roasted and roughly chopped
400g Orecchiette Pasta
A good grating of Grana Padano
Handful of Rocket Leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil
For the Pangrattato
Around 50g of stale bread, blitzed into coarse breadcrumbs
Small bunch of Thyme leaves
2tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Pre-heat the oven to 210°C and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
2. Cut the cauliflower into florets, and mix in 2tbsps of Rapeseed Oil and the dried chilli. Make sure the cauliflower is evenly coated with the oil.
3. Roast in the oven for around 15 minutes, you want a little charring to appear. Once they are ready, remove and set to one side.
4. Add 2tbsps of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a pan and on a medium to high heat, fry the breadcrumbs until they are crispy and golden. Add in the thyme leaves towards the end. Remove from the pan and set aside until later.
5. Wipe the pan out and add in a couple more glugs of olive oil. On on a medium heat, cook the sliced garlic for a few minutes then add in the anchovies. Once they have dissolved, add in the preserved lemon. Cook for another minute then add in the white wine and simmer for a further minute.
6. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in plenty of salted boiling water.
7. Now add in a couple of ladles in the pasta cooking water and the double cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep cooking this liquid on a gentle simmer until the pasta in ready.
8. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and mix through the lemony cream mixture. Add in the roasted cauliflower, parsley, rocket and hazelnuts.
9. Serve on warm plates with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good grating of grana padano.
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