Pasta, Pizza, Risotto

Creamy Cauliflower Penne (Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore)

Nicoletta January 8, 2018

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Creamy Cauliflower Penne (Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore), a classic winter Italian dish, that is simple, delicate and so tasty.  Easy and fast weeknight dish.

Song of the day: Perfect – Ed Sheeran.

Creamy Cauliflower Penne

The yellowed and a bit crumpled recipe book that was my mother’s,  I brought to Canada with me. This book not only carries the calligraphy of my mother and mine, but also that of my dad’s. The very short recipe I am making today, only a few lines between ingredients and preparation, was written with my dad’s beautiful handwriting and was a recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Penne (Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore).

 

 

My father is a man of few words and few pleasantries, and his way of cooking reflects this. Starting from a few, selected ingredients and with simple and tested techniques, he pulls out tasty and “rustic” dishes, which, however, sometimes, can also be refined. Lately, and also, with the influence of Loreto, he has started to use some spices that previously had no place in his fridge and pantry: turmeric, curry, cinnamon, and ginger, are now part of his repertoire. Not that he launched himself in the creation of ethnic dishes, not at all, however, he incorporates those spices of distant worlds in his regional Italian everyday cooking, navigating, using his own intuition which Loreto is happy to see.

Creamy Cauliflower PenneCreamy Cauliflower Penne

This recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Penne is simple, tasty, and quick to prepare, and, together with another classic, Pasta and Broccoli, it is one of my father’s winter staple pasta dishes.

The main ingredient, an organic cauliflower, is followed by the omnipresent “soffritto“: oil, garlic and a pinch of peperoncino (chili peppers); some cauliflower’s cooking water; a little cream to give more creaminess; a touch of parsley and Grana Padano; and a nice dusting of toasted breadcrumbs, to garnish and finish the dish with texture and taste.

Creamy Cauliflower Penne

In the most typical Italian combination, taste and simplicity are the main characteristics of this Creamy Cauliflower Penne (Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore), ready on the table in about 30 minutes.

With all the different varieties of pasta that are now on the market, you can customize the dish to make it gluten-free, and if you want to omit the cream and cheese, or use a vegetable cream, you can also make it a vegan dish.

Creamy Cauliflower Penne

The distinctness of this Creamy Cauliflower Penne is the creamy flavor of the cauliflower with its deep rustic nature, and the combination of the breadcrumbs offering delicate crispy notes to the mix. The combination is a winner, balancing each other incredibly. Let us not forget the pasta, a nice penne perfectly cooked and that al dente texture adding yet another element to the mix. The cream so smooth and luscious manages to pull all the elements together of this simple yet incredibly flavorful dish.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
― Clare Boothe Luce

Song of the day: Perfect – Ed Sheeran.

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Creamy Cauliflower Penne

Creamy Cauliflower Penne (Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore)

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Creamy Cauliflower Penne (Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore) is a classic winter Italian dish, that is simple, delicate and tasty.  Easy and fast weeknight dish.


Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 3 cups cooked cauliflower)
  • 250 g penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup half and half cream
  • 3 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed a little
  • pinch of peperoncino (chili flakes)
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Grana Padano (or Pecorino Romano)
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs, toasted (for topping)
  • 2 drops e.v.o. oil

Instructions

  1. Wash and clean the cauliflower, cut it into florets and boil it in water for about 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Scoop out, and leave the water where you will cook the pasta.
  2. Puree the boiled cauliflower florets with 1 Tbsp of the pasta water and 1 Tbsp of the cream.
  3. In a saute pan add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the smashed garlic clove, the pinch of chili flakes, and the chopped parsley. Saute for about 3 minutes. Remove garlic clove.
  4. Add the cauliflower puree, and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the cream and stir and cook for just a few minutes. Turn off heat.
  5. In another non-stick pan, toast the 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs with just a drop of oil, stirring briefly until they are a golden brown color. Do not burn!
  6.  Add salt to the cauliflower cooking water. Bring to a boil, add the penne, and cook the pasta for the time suggested on the package.
  7. Drain the pasta, leaving a couple ladles of pasta cooking water (just in case). Stir the pasta in the cream of cauliflower adding some water if needs more creaminess. Blend well and add the two tablespoons of Grana or Pecorino, stirring again.
  8. Plate the penne and sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and a drop of e.v.o. oil. Serve warm.

Creamy Cauliflower Penne

As with most pasta dishes, leftovers go unwasted and Loreto came to the table with this wonderful baked pasta dish. Always a fan of the crispy bits that happen to day-old pasta baked, and that cream along with some grated Grana Padano on top to form an unbelievable crispy topping.

Creamy Cauliflower Penne

Post e Ricetta in Italiano:

Il libretto di ricette ingiallito e sgualcito con la rigatura di seconda elementare che ho portato in Canada, non portava solo la calligrafia di mamma e la mia, ma anche quella di papa’.  La ricetta, succinta e scarna, con 5 righe tra ingredienti e preparazione, scritta con la calligrafia arzigogolata di papa’ era della Pasta alla Crema di cavolfiore.

Mio padre è sempre stato di poche parole e pochi convenevoli, e il suo modo di cucinare lo rispecchia. Partendo da pochi, semplici, ingredienti selezionati e con tecniche semplici e collaudate, tira fuori dei piatti gustosi e “ruspanti”, che però, a volte, possono anche risultare raffinati. Ultimamente, poi, con la spinta di Loreto, si è lanciato su alcune spezie che prima non trovavano posto nel loro frigo e dispensa: curcuma, curry, cannella, e zenzero, fanno ormai parte del suo repertorio. Non che si sia lanciato anche nella creazione di piatti etnici, quello no, lui incorpora quelle spezie di mondi lontani nella sua cucina Italiana regionale di tutti i giorni.

Questa ricetta delle Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore sono semplici, gustose, e veloci da preparare, e, insieme ad un altro classico, Pasta e Broccoli, sono uno dei piatti invernali che ripete spesso.

Principale ingrediente, un cavolfiore biologico, seguito dall’onnipresente soffritto di olio, aglio e un pizzico di peperoncino; un po’ d’acqua di cottura del cavolfiore;  un po’ di panna per dare maggiore cremosità; una manciata di prezzemolo tritato; una spolverata di Grana; e una bella spruzzata di pan grattato tostato, concludono la preparazione.

Nel più tipico binomio Italiano, gusto e semplicità sono le principali caratteristiche di queste Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore, pronta in tavola in meno di 30 minuti.

Con tutte le diverse varietà di pasta che si trovano ora in commercio, gluten-free e non, potete personalizzare il piatto, e volendo omettere la panna e il Grana, o usando una panna vegetale, potete renderlo vegano.

Print
Creamy Cauliflower Penne

Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Total Time: 30 minuti
  • Yield: 2-3 persone
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italiana

Description

Nel più tipico binomio Italiano, gusto e semplicità sono le principali caratteristiche di queste Penne alla Crema di Cavolfiore, pronta in tavola in meno di 30 minuti.


Ingredients

  • 1 cavolfiore piccolo
  • 250 g penne
  • 50-60 ml di panna da cucina
  • 3 cucchiai di olio e.v.o.
  • 1 spicchio d’aglio
  • 1 pizzico di peperoncino
  • 1 manciata di prezzemolo sminuzzato
  • sale e pepe q.b.
  • 2 cucchiai di Grana Padano (o Pecorino Romano) grattugiato
  • 2 cucchiai di pan grattato, tostato (per guarnire)
  • 1 goccio di olio e.v.o. (per finire)

Instructions

  1. Lavare e pulire il cavolfiore, tagliarlo a cimette e farlo bollire in abbondante acqua salata per circa 10 minuti, o fino a quando è tenero da sentire con la forchetta. Scolare con una schiumarola per mantenere l’acqua di cottura dove si cuocerà la pasta.
  2. Tritare le cimette di cavolfiore lessate con 1 cucchiaio di acqua  e 1 cucchiaio di panna.
  3. In una padella aggiungere 3 cucchiai di olio d’oliva, lo spicchio d’aglio schiacciato, il pizzico di peperoncino e il prezzemolo tritato. Soffriggere per circa 3 minuti. Rimuovere lo spicchio d’aglio.
  4. Aggiungere la purea di cavolfiore e condire con sale e pepe. Aggiungere il resto della panna, mescolare e cuocere per pochi minuti. Spegnere il fuoco.
  5. In un’altra padellina antiaderente, tostare i 2 cucchiai di pangrattato con una goccia d’olio, mescolando brevemente fino a ottenere un colore dorato. Fare attenzione a non bruciare!
  6. Portare a ebollizione l’acqua di cottura del cavolfiore, aggiungere il sale e cuocere la pasta per il tempo indicato sulla confezione.
  7. Scolare la pasta, lasciando un mestolo di acqua di cottura della pasta.
  8. Aggiungere la pasta nella padella con la crema di cavolfiore, aggiungendo un po’ d’acqua se ha bisogno di un po’ di cremosità. Amalgamare bene e aggiungere i due cucchiai di Grana o Pecorino, mescolando di nuovo.
  9. Impiattare e cospargere di pangrattato tostato e finire con un filo d’olio. Servire calda.

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36 Comments

  • Reply Milena Perrine January 8, 2018 at 9:57 am

    I love seeing your genuine Italian recipes. Italians are so blessed when it comes to great food. I love cauliflower but have never tried it in pasta. I need to give this recipe a go, you have inspired me!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks, Milena! I know, we’re pretty lucky 🙂 .This is such a simple pasta with great flavors. I forgot to ask how your walnut cookies turned out. Hope good! Have a beautiful week.

  • Reply Gloria Duggan January 8, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Yup…I would love a bowl/dish/plate of this right about now. We just finished a “deep freeze” with the weather….only to shovel SNOW!!! This is the perfect way to warm up from the cold.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2018 at 1:07 pm

      I know, Gloria, lots of snow in the east and so cold! I left for Rome just in time 😉 . Thank you!!

  • Reply meredith January 8, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    I am on such a cauliflower kick right now… I just love it! However, I have never tried cauliflower as the base of a pasta dish. This creamy cauliflower penne looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Cauliflower is so good and good for you. I know, this is a classic dish only in Italy 🙂 . Hope you try it!

  • Reply Laineey January 9, 2018 at 6:32 am

    This creamy cauliflower penne dish looks so delicious!! I love that you have that cookbook with all your calligraphy! I cherish my mother’s handwritten recipes! I can’t wait to try your recipe! I know my hubby is going to love it!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you! If you love cauliflower, the flavor of this pasta is just amazing.

  • Reply Ivana January 9, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Anch’io sono come tuo papà, in inverno faccio spesso la pasta con i cavolfiori e con i broccoli, così riesco a far mangiare queste verdure anche a mio figlio che non le ama molto!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      Grazie Ivana! Sono entrambe così buone, ci credo che anche tuo figlio le mangia 🙂 .

  • Reply Culinary Flavors January 10, 2018 at 1:19 am

    What a great pasta dish! I love the cauliflower sauce, very unusual! Happy New Year and nice to meet your blog!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you! Nice to meet your blog as well! Happy New Year and Happy cooking 🙂 .

  • Reply homemadezagat January 11, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Pinned this. Never had cauliflower with pasta like this definitely want to try

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 11, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Thank you! It is really flavorful. And so nutritious!

  • Reply Leslie January 13, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Everyone has great cauliflower recipes right now, but I am learning towards this one to start with! Cauliflower AND pasta? Yes, please!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2018 at 10:27 am

      This is such an old classic in Italy, you cannot go wrong 😉 . Thank you!!

  • Reply Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen January 13, 2018 at 7:07 am

    I don’t use Grana Padano often enough – it sounds like the perfect addition to this dish! It looks so warm and inviting!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Grana Padano, being aged less years than Parmigiano, has a creamier and lighter flavor, so good also to eat as a table cheese and so nutritious. Thank you for your comment!

  • Reply Analida's Ethnic Spoon January 13, 2018 at 7:42 am

    I love the flavors in this dish! The Italian soffritto always adds to making a great flavor. In my Hispanic background I find myself typically using a Spanish or Latin American style sofrito that I grew up with. Here is a Latin sofrito to check out: https://ethnicspoon.com/sofrito-recipe/
    Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Thanks, Analida! Yes, there’s not a dish that doesn’t start with a good soffritto 🙂 . I checked your link for a Latin-American sofrito, so interesting!, I did not know it was in tomato sauce and had spices, looks and sounds amazing!

  • Reply Sharon Glascoe January 13, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Your right this would make a perfect staple for the Wintertime. The creamy sauce with the cauliflower sounds like an amazing pair.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Thanks! Yes, it is perfect for winter, we already made it twice 🙂 .

  • Reply Helene January 14, 2018 at 4:26 am

    rustic cauliflower flavors? Yes please and all that as a pasta sauce topped on penne! I seriously need to try this soon, you just gave me an idea with paprika.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:28 am

      Thank you! Yes, its rustic flavors are unbeatable 🙂 .

  • Reply Amanda Mason January 14, 2018 at 7:55 am

    I am intrigued!! What a fantastic dish to make! I would have never thought of this but now I’m excited to make your recipe!! Love the idea of using cauliflower in this penne pasta dish!!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:29 am

      Thank you, Amanda! This is what is all about, inspiring each other to create beautiful and delicious food! 🙂

  • Reply FoodieGirlChicago January 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I’m always looking for ways to get more veggies in my diet so this recipe is going on my must make list! Pinned!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:32 am

      Pasta is my favorite way to incorporate veggies. Hope you try it, you are going to love it. Thank you!!

  • Reply annie@ciaochowbambina January 14, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    This is everything I am craving right now! A beautiful recipe to end the weekend on… Thank you for sharing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:35 am

      Thank you, Annie! So simple, so good 🙂 .

  • Reply Karen January 14, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I can imagine how good this simple dish is. My husband makes one similar but he adds caramelized onions to his dish.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:36 am

      Caramelized onions must be such a tasty addition! Thank you, Karen!

  • Reply alifeofhappenstance January 14, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    I have a cauliflower in my refrigerator that I now know what to do with! I’m gluten and grain free so I think I’ll use either spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash instead of the penne. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:39 am

      Great! Hope you like it! 🙂 Thanks so much.

  • Reply Sara Lehman January 14, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    This looks like a wonderful dinner for the family! We love cauliflower, it is so filling and tasty!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2018 at 12:40 am

      Yes, filling, tasty, nutritious, so good for the all family. Thanks!

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