Friday, April 19, 2013

Pappardelle in Bagna Cauda with Cauliflower

Following our standout experience at Chef Stephanie Izard's Girl and the Goat back in February, I couldn't wait to try out some of the recipes included in the chef's cookbook (titled "Girl in the Kitchen") that we received as part of our going-away present. After paging through the contents, I settled on a pasta dish that included anchovies and cauliflower for the first new recipe to be attempted in the Canteen. The recipe calls for white anchovies, which can be a little hard to find - with only the neighborhood Publix at my disposal, I had to go with a couple of standard anchovy tins instead (me and the missus are not particularly picky when it comes to our anchovies). Another difficult ingredient was the pappardelle, a wide noodle that's sold as dried pasta nests instead of loosely in a box. Back in Chicago, pappardelle was usually on the shelf in most grocery stores; down in northwest Tampa, however, about the closest thing I could locate without a major hunt was fettuccine (I've since identified a local Italian grocery that will satisfy all of my future esoteric noodle needs), which was an adequate substitute. Undaunted, I returned home to assemble my pasta dish.

When you get down to brass tacks, the finished creation isn't a whole lot more complicated than boiled noodles with browned cauliflower and a butter-garlic-anchovy sauce (the sauce is referred to in the recipe as bagna cauda, a term meaning "warm bath" in Italian that I've also seen applied to salt cod dip). The chef throws in some feta for tang, lemon zest for acid, and toasted almonds for crunch - voila, you've got yourself a pretty good weeknight meal and subsequent lunch leftovers. Here is the recipe reproduced from the "Girl and the Goat" Cookbook:

1/2 c. minced white (or 2 tins) anchovies
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. butter
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. dried pappardelle or fettuccine
1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1/4-inch slices
freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. julienned preserved lemon or 1 lemon, zested
2 Tbsp. mint, chiffonaded
2 Tbsp. basil, chiffonaded
3/4 c. toasted sliced almonds
2 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1. To make bagna cauda - combine anchovies, oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and let mixture simmer until the anchovies fall apart, about 30 minutes.

2. Boil pasta according to package directions (al dente)

3. Spoon 3 Tbsp. of bagna cauda into a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and saute until lightly browned and softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Drain pasta and add it to pan with cauliflower along with the remaining sauce, lemon zest, mint, and basil. Stir thoroughly to coat noodles.

5. Divide pasta among bowls and garnish with almonds/feta.

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