This recipe was inspired by the contents of my refrigerator. It was a weeknight, I hadn’t shopped, and I wanted to make an easy and satisfying one-dish dinner. Pasta is always useful in this situation. With a little digging in the refrigerator I unearthed a cauliflower, prosciutto and arugula, while the cheese drawer disclosed a couple hunks of Parmgiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Further inspired by a Cooking Light recipe as well as a similar recipe from Simply Recipes, I decided to roast the cauliflower and tomatoes and toss them with the pasta. The roasting process softens and chars the cauliflower, adding a nice depth to the dish, while shriveling and intensifying the flavor of the tomatoes. From there I digressed, improvising with my other ingredients. I baked the prosciutto in the oven until it crisped, and snapped the pieces into salty shards. Then I combined the cooked pasta with the cauliflower, tomatoes and prosciutto before tossing in the arugula and tumbling everything together so that the heat from the pasta would slightly wilt the peppery arugula leaves. Finally I scattered the dish wth a mix of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheese. The result was a healthy, satisfying weeknight meal which could be served warm or at room temperature. Digging in the refrigerator is fun, and I highly recommend it.
Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto and Arugula
1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into 1″ florets
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces sliced prosciutto
1 pound penne pasta
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup Pecorino Romana cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.)
Arrange cauliflower and tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Roast in oven until cauliflower is tender and browned on the edges, about 20 minutes.
While the cauliflower is roasting, arrange prosciutto slices in one layer on another baking sheet. Place in same oven and bake for 20 minutes as well.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain. Combine pasta, cauliflower, tomatoes, garlic and black pepper in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Break prosciutto into shards. Scatter prosciutto and arugula over pasta and toss to combine. Combine the 2 cheeses in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over pasta and toss. Taste to see if more cheese is needed. Serve pasta with remaining cheese on the side.