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Two-Cheese Pasta with Cauliflower
This recipe from Naples uses the same water to both parcook the cauliflower and to cook the pasta. Parcooking means the cauliflower browns quickly when it is later added to the skillet. It also enriches the water, infusing the pasta with some of the vegetable's flavor. To contrast the cauliflower's subtle sweetness, we liked equal amounts of salty, savory pecorino Romano cheese and aged provolone (also called provolone picante, or sharp provolone). If you can't find aged provolone, regular provolone is an acceptable, though milder-tasting, substitute. Short, twisty pasta shapes such as campanelle and cavatappi combine perfectly with the cauliflower florets; we boil the pasta for only 5 minutes (it will be well shy of al dente), then finish cooking it directly the skillet with the cauliflower.
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
pound head cauliflower, halved and trimmed of leaves
01In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the cauliflower halves and cook for 5 minutes; begin timing from the moment the cauliflower is added to the pot. Using tongs, transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board; reserve the pot and the water. When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, chop the florets and stems into pieces slightly smaller than the pasta, discarding the thick, tough core. You should have about 4 cups. Return the water to a boil.
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