I just love making pasta dishes with vegetables! Growing up we had pasta at least once a week or twice. Of course we didn’t call it pasta, we called it macaroni and instead of sauce we called it gravy. I don’t remember any pasta or macaroni dishes made with vegetables either. We had tomato sauce with meatballs or spare ribs and often had shells (my favorite), rigatoni, ziti, mostociolli and spaghetti. On Fridays we sometimes had linguine with clam sauce or linguine with marinara sauce or with olive oil and garlic and of course we had lasagna now and then. But never a meal with pasta and vegetables. I wonder if this was because it was more American to eat your macaroni mainly with meat or was it because we could. My grandfather told me that when he was growing up in Italy, maybe they ate meat with their macaroni on Sundays.
I didn’t discover the world of pasta and vegetables until much later in life. I came across a cookbook unlike the other Italian cookbooks I owned; It is The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces. This cookbook embraces the art of pasta sauce created with vegetables, fish and meat. I learned to love Linguine al Limone (linguine with lemon), and Pasta e Ccci, ( chick peas and pasta broth), Paglia e Fieno alla Ciociara (straw and hay) just to name a few. The recipes seem exotic yet are made with common ingredients – I wonder if this is what my grandfather ate every day in Italy?
4 TBS Olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 head cauliflower cut into small flowerets
Salt to taste
4 cloves garlic sliced thin
1# Swiss Chard roughly chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz grated pecorino romano
Boil water, add cauliflower, salt, cook 3 minutes. Remove cauliflower, set aside and reserve 1/2 cup of water.
Heat oil in large skillet, add onion – cook medium heat until golden brown about 15 minutes.
Then add penne.
Add garlic to skillet, cook 2-3 minutes till lightly browned, then add Swiss Chard, cook till wilts, about 3 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and red pepper and reserved water. Season
Add cooked penne, toss and dust with grated cheese.
Recipe from Tom Meyer, New York Times