Summer still seems far away here in the Netherlands, so I felt like making this hearty pasta dish. It’s a simple dish with an original flavor, and very filling. This is not an original Italian dish; the combination of cauliflower and almonds is my own invention.
For 2 servings
150-200 grams (1/3-1/2 pound) penne pasta
300 grams (2/3 pounds) cauliflower florets
50 grams (2 oz) blanched almonds
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup home-made chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 cup whipping cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
2 Tbsp butter
Preheat the oven to 225C/450F. Break up (or cut) the cauliflower into small florets, roughly equivalent in size to the size of the pasta. Toss the cauliflower with olive oil. Spread out the cauliflower and the almonds separately on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the almonds for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Return the sheet with the cauliflower to the oven.
Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the garlic and almonds when the butter forms. Sauté for about 1 minute, do not let the garlic color.
Add whipping cream and chicken stock. Season with freshly ground white pepper. Simmer until the sauce has a medium-thick consistency, stirring.
Meanwhile, cook the penne al dente in ample salted boiling water according to package instructions.
Take the cauliflower out of the oven when golden, about half an hour after you took out the almonds.
Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and the cauliflower to the sauce, together with most of the freshly grated parmigiano and the basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Serve at once on preheated plates, sprinkled with the remaining parmigiano and basil.
Because of the cream and the toasted almonds, this pairs well with a buttery oaked chardonnay from a warm climate (e.g. California, South Africa, Australia, south of France).