Cheddar-Cauliflower Pasta Bake (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
8 thin slices pancetta
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 pound dried macaroni or other smallish dried pasta
9 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 thick slices of country bread
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked off of the stems
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Fill an electric kettle with water and put it on to boil. Fit a food processor with the grating attachment.
2. Lay the pancetta in a roasting pan (about 9x13 inches). Place it on the top shelf of the oven.
3. Trim the cauliflower and cut it into quarters. Place it a large saucepan, core down, and then pour the dried pasta over. Cover with boiling water, filling and reboiling the kettle if necessary. Season with salt, drizzle with a little oil, and give everything a stir to make sure everything is submerged in water. Cook according to the pasta's package instructions.
4. Grate the cheese in the food processor and then transfer to a bowl. Change to the standard blade attachment, and then add in the pancetta (now crispy), along with the bread, rosemary leaves, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Process to a coarse breadcrumb consistency.
5. Put a colander over a large bowl to catch the pasta water, and then drain the pasta and cauliflower. Return to the pot and break up the cauliflower with tongs or a potato masher. Add in 1-2/3 cups of the pasta water, the garlic, the creme fraiche, and the grated Cheddar. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
6. Spread into the same roasting pan you used for the pancetta. Scatter the breadcrumbs on top, and then bake on the top shelf of the oven until golden and bubbling, about 8 minutes or so. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Earlier this month, Tim and I visited our friends in their new home, Chicago! Here I am with Adelina in Millennium Park.