Friday, April 21, 2006
Necessity is the mother of invention, and I had a head of cauliflower and a single ripe tomato that I needed to use. I thought, What would Mom do?
Of course Mom would make an utterly delicious pasta sauce.
I came close, but I didn't quite cook the cauliflower long enough, so it was a little too firm. We don't want mush, but we want those florets to be cooked through. I'm glad I didn't have any real Italians at the table -- they like to cook vegetables to death and probably wouldn't appreciate a bit of snap.
Otherwise, I will make this dish again. All I did was brown some pancetta (it's a full-blown addiction at this point) and render its fat, then remove the crispy bits from the pan. I added chopped onion to the fat, then in a few minutes some sliced garlic and a chopped chile. Parsley would've been nice, but I didn't have any. I dropped my tomato in the water that was boiling for pasta, and then removed the skin and chopped the flesh, tossing it into the pan along with the cauliflower and a splash of white wine. Then I began to cook the pasta (I should have given the cauliflower five minutes of cooking time first). When the sauce got a bit dry, I added some pasta water to it. Near the end I threw most of the browned pancetta into the pan to heat up, saving a little to sprinkle over our bowls. I love a meaty garnish.
Oh, and a word on the biscuit in the background. It's called a freselle (not to be confused with guitarist Bill Frisell), and its only ingredients are flour, water, yeast, lard, lots of black pepper, and salt. My sisters, parents, and I picked up a few bags when we were in New Haven two weeks ago. You can get freselles in other areas, but to our family New Haven is the only place to find the real deal. They're crumbly, peppery, and irresistible. Dunk them in coffee or soup or tomato sauce, spread them with peanut butter, eat them plain -- it all works.