Pennone con Cavolfiore al Forno (Cauliflower)

45 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 1 1/2 pounds of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 ounces pancetta, cut into small cubes (optional)
  • 4 ounces scamorza, provolone, or fontina cheese, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces breadcrumbs
  • 2 ounces butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni or other tubular pasta.

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  1. In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until golden. Remove the garlic. If using pancetta, add it and sauté until light golden. Add the cauliflower and then enough water to almost cover it. Cook, covered for 5-10 minutes, then uncovered for another 5 minutes until water is mostly evaporated. The cauliflower should be tender, but not mushy. Add about 1 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper and/or crushed red pepper, depending on your taste.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Cook the pasta until very al dente (about 3-4 minutes less than the package’s instructions) and drain it. Place the pasta into an oven proof casserole. Mix in the cauliflower, add the cream if you are using it, and then sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs evenly across the top. Add a few small pats of butter. Place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Ed's Review

I am strongly opposed to eating genetically modified foods. No GMOs for my loved ones!  I am willing to make an exception, however, and that is for cauliflower. I can only hope that Monsanto alters the heck out of it. Maybe they can give it some color, so it looks less like a human brain.  And then perhaps they can add a pleasant flavor.  And oh, that smell.

On the other hand, our cruciferous friend is chock full of vitamins and nutrients. It is high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C. It also contains many phytochemicals that may protect against cancer. (Boiling it reduces the potency of many of these compounds, which is why I recommend steaming, roasting, or lightly frying it.)

OK, upon further reflection, maybe it’s better to save cauliflower from Monsanto, along with the rest of our foods.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m still not a huge fan of cauliflower, but luckily, we have plenty of cheese and pancetta to make it delicious for everyone.  And for those who naturally love it, you’ll love it even more as prepared below.

Buon Appetito!

Ed Garrubbo

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