Gourmet Veggie Mama

Cauliflower carbonara

Thanks once again to the lovely and talented Ruby, I now have another great option for making cauliflower into a meal. I made cauliflower “carbonara” based on her recipe not long ago, and it was delicious.

Yes, please.

This is a vegetarian version of the original dish, which generally includes pancetta or bacon. Needless to say, this was right up my alley, and of course I didn’t miss the meat at all! Nora devoured the leftovers with me the next day.

Oh, did you want some?

This is a fantastic dish that you can throw together with stuff you probably already have around the house, so what’s not to like? Add a salad and it’s a meal.

Cauliflower Carbonara
From this recipe from Guitar Picks and Apron Strings, with my modifications

1 head of cauliflower, large florets cut away from the stem and sliced into bite-size pieces*
12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp butter, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Crushed red pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten**
2 oz grated parmesan, plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and add the sliced cauliflower, cooking for about a minute. Fish out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same water, cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain, retaining about a cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the black pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper and stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and toss to coat with butter. Leave the cauliflower for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown and then toss again.  Once the cauliflower is browned to your liking, remove it from the skillet and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining butter and olive oil to the skillet. Once melted, add more fresh ground pepper and crushed red pepper.  Once the garlic has softened, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Add the pasta, tossing to coat. Turn off the heat and toss in the cauliflower. Add the beaten eggs and parmesan and gently toss until coated.  The eggs shouldn’t scramble, but rather thicken into a silky sauce consistency from the retained heat. Add more pasta water if needed to achieve your desired consistency.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve with additional parmesan grated on top.

* Cutting the cauliflower into slices gives you nice, flat surfaces for browning.  

** As mentioned in the original recipe, you really should try to use fresh, local eggs rather than commercial ones. As a vegetarian, this is a cause near and dear to my heart, since laying hens are treated just about as poorly as any other animal out there in a big commercial farm setting. “Free-range” is better, but it doesn’t always mean what you imagine it to, so try to pick up eggs from the farmer’s market or another local source if you can.

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