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For Saffron Lovers: Cauliflower with Penne

For Saffron Lovers: Cauliflower with Penne


  • Salt

  • 1 pound penne rigate

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • A small handful of golden raisins

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • A generous pinch of saffron (20-24 threads)

  • 1 head white, yellow or orange cauliflower, cored

  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of handfuls)

  • Toasted sliced almonds, thinly sliced basil leaves, and chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven fitted with a lid, heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the raisins and lemon zest and cook for a few minutes more. Stir in the stock and saffron and bring to a simmer.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cauliflower until tender, 12-5 minutes. Drain and coarsely mash with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Stir in the butter to melt, then add the pasta and reserved pasta water; toss to combine. Add in the cheese as you toss.

Serve the penne in shallow bowls. Top with the almonds, basil and parsley.