Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nonna's Pasta Cavalofiore

Well she's not my nonna, but I am sure by now she is someone's fantastic nonna. Who is she? Well, she is Franca, my Italian house mother from a term abroad I did in the Fall of 1992. Yup. You read that correctly, 1992. Don't even try to pretend you aren't doing the math to figure out just exactly how old I am. Save yourself the trouble, I'm 29. Seriously. Why would I lie? 

While 1992 seems like a lifetime ago, I realized that Franca's Pasta Cavalofiore primi dish has been a staple in my culinary repertoire for all these years. It is a simple dish meant to be a primi served in advance of a proper secondi dish that blends wonderful seasonal fall flavors. We ate it often during the 10 weeks I had the good fortune to be living on the outskirts of Florence, Italy. Franca and her family grew and raised most of their own food. They were pioneers of the sustainable food movement. A few of my American housemates were not so thrilled to learn that not only were the veggies sourced from the back yard but the turkey was as well. I remember the moment distinctly as my classmates blanched at this realization driving Franca to lose it. Waving her finger at the lot of us yelling in Italian, What is wrong with you? You eat NOTHING! and then stopping herself to look directly at me to say Well, not you. You eat everything. Cauliflower was in season and it was a dish my housemates ate with pleasure so we had it often. Even so, we never tired of it.

After that term abroad, it became the staple of my diet throughout the remaining years of my undergraduate studies and into the early days of my marriage. It was the dish I used to introduce vegetables to my children who thought the cauliflower was funny looking pasta. When I was sure they were hooked on the dish I let the cat out of the bag that it was cauliflower. Then I introduced broccoli as cauliflower's brother. Suffice it to say, this dish has carried me through some wonderful years of my life.

If I know I am going to have a busy week like this one, I always toss a cauliflower in my basket at the market. I never know which night I am going to need the fast, but good, food help. Tonight it is going to help me get a good dish on the table as I dash out the door for a PTO meeting. My husband and I will cross paths for exactly 20 minutes tonight and we feel it is very important to share our evening meal as a family. Pasta Cavalofiore takes the dinner-prep-on-a-busy-night edge off so we can all enjoy a quick meal together updating each other on our day.

Tonight I have updated the dish a little adding crispy pancetta and edamame.

Pasta Cavalofiore

A great pasta dish you can do on the fly ...

See Pasta Cavalofiore on Key Ingredient.