When John and I read cookbooks and magazines we are looking for new cooking methods or flavor combinations. We use these methods or flavors to spur our creativity. When I first read Mario Batali's cookbook Babbo I noticed that he cooked cauliflower a different way, he cut it into small pieces then cooked it until very brown and crispy. If you haven't had cauliflower cooked this way you are really missing out, it turns a rather bland vegetable into crispy goodness. We really love cauliflower done this way and often use it as a side dish as well as adding it to soups and pasta.
We used sausage in this pasta recipe but in the past we have used pancetta and big surprise even bacon and if you are cooking for vegetarians you can easily leave out the sausage.
We used Trader Joe's egg pappardelle pasta it really has a nice texture and cooks up like silk. When you cook the pasta make sure that you use a pot that is large enough, sometime I think people seek out the smallest pot they have to cook their pasta in. So get a nice big pot and add at least 8 cups of water and add a generous hand full of salt to the water before adding the pasta. You can cook extra pasta and keep it for later in the week just toss with a bit of olive oil and it will keep for 3-4 days in your refrigerator.
The goat cheese is added to the sauce to thicken the sauce but also adds a nice tangy flavor to the finished dish.I like a really big pinch of red chili flakes to spice up the pasta or you can have your guests add the spice at the table for those who are spicy weenies.Eat this now!
Pasta with Italian Sausage, Cauliflower, and Leeks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
2 leeks, julienne
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces soft mild goat cheese
salt and black pepper
red chili flakes
2 packages pappardelle pasta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Bring a very large pot of salted water to a rolling boil
Heat the a large saute pan, then add the olive oil, heat the oil until smoking hot. Add the cauliflower and leeks and cook until very brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the sausage and cook until brown and just cooked through, add the chicken stock, garlic, and thyme and cook for about 2 minutes to deglaze the pan. Add the pasta to the water , stir and allow to cook. Cook until al dente about 5-6 minutes. Strain the pasta. Add the goat cheese to the sauce and mix well. Add the cauliflower to the sauce and toss well. Season with salt and black pepper. Add a nice big pinch of red chili flakes. Add the pasta to the sauce, toss well and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve warm topped with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.