Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Ham, and Cumin

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Italian cooking is about the art of “less is more”. When I thought of this pasta dish, I thought the flavors of roasted cauliflower, boiled ham, and cumin would work well together. And they did! And I resisted the urge to add more ingredients other than the basics such as parmigiano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. This allows the browned earthy flavors of the roasted cauliflower, the sweet earthy spicy cumin and the bright porky ham to shine. The parmigiano and garlic increase the depth of flavor in a supporting role. I chose a short pasta shape to match the texture of the toppings. (Long pasta shapes such as spaghetti are more suitable to be served with a sauce.)  So even though this is not by any means a classical Italian dish, I like to think that an Italian could have come up with this. It sure was delicious and I will definitely make this again. This dish is easy and relatively quick, roasting the cauliflower is what takes the longest. Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

150 grams (1/3 lb) short pasta

200 grams (7 oz) boiled ham, diced

400 grams (.9 lb) cauliflower florets

2 tsp cumin seeds

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground white pepper

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

1 clove garlic (optional)

Preparation

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Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Break the cauliflower into small florets (similar to the size of the pasta) until you have 400 grams (.9 lb) of florets, and toss them with olive oil in an oven proof dish. Roast them in the oven at 200ºC/400ºF for about half an hour, or until nicely browned.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil. About 10-15 minutes before the cauliflower will be done, add 150 grams (1/3 lb) of pasta and salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta for the time indicated on the package for al dente.

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Heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan. Add a garlic clove (if using), tilt the pan, and cook the garlic until it is golden. Then discard it. In this way, the oil will be infused with a gentle garlic flavor.

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Add 200 grams (7 oz) of diced ham to the frying pan, and sauté for a minute.

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Add 2 tsp of cumin, and stir for another minute.

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If you timed everything perfectly, the cauliflower should now be nicely browned and the pasta should be al dente. Season the cauliflower with salt.

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Drain the pasta (reserving a bit of the cooking water) and add the pasta and cauliflower to the frying pan with the ham.

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Add a generous amount of freshly grated parmigiano as well, and season with freshly ground white pepper.

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Toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

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Serve at once on preheated plates, and sprinkle with some additional parmigiano.

Wine pairing

This could work with either a full-bodied white or a light red, neither of which should be very acidic as this is an earthy dish. We enjoyed this with a nice red from Piemonte, Dolcetto di Dogliani.

Flashback

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Caponata is a traditional delicious eggplant dish from Sicily that is perfect for the summer as it can be enjoyed at room temperature as well as warm.

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12 thoughts on “Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Ham, and Cumin

  1. Made this today so thanks for the recipe! Ideal for a quick weeknight family diner. I replaced the ham with 1 can of chopped sardines, acting like a mellow version of ansjovis providing umami. I also toasted and crushed the cumin separately in order to have more control over its impact on the dish. And I stir fried the leaves (the stems I cut in small dice and added to the florets) separately and put them on the final plates as garnish.

    Liked by 1 person

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