Penne with Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon and Campari Tomatoes
Fresh cauliflower develops a wonderful sweet flavor when roasted at high heat. For this delicious pasta dish we combined the roasted florets with penne, bacon, lots of garlic, sweet Campari tomatoes and scallions. Pair it with a green salad, for a complete meal.
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 1 medium head cauliflower, separated and cut into bite-sized pieces
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 8 Campari tomatoes, quartered (see notes for substitutions)
- 6 scallions, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- Romano or Parmesan cheese for grating
Preheat the oven to 400°F and coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the penne.
Place the cauliflower in a large bowl, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
Roast for 20 to 30 minutes until the florets are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the cauliflower roasts, fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain the excess fat from the pan, but don't wipe it out.
Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and continue cooking just until fragrant, about 1 minute longer (do not brown).
Add the tomatoes and scallions, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing gently with a spatula, just long enough for the tomatoes to soften but not break down, 2 minutes.
Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Add the cauliflower and bacon, drizzle with a extra little olive oil and and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add tomato mixture and toss again.
To serve, divide the pasta between 4 plates and grate cheese over the top of each.
Makes 4 servings
Whenever a dish includes bacon, be a little conservative with the salt when you season the various other elements of the dish. Once all the components are pulled together, you can always add a little extra, but if you add too much to start out with, the addition of bacon may be pushing the limits.
About Campari tomatoes:
Campari is a trademarked name for a greenhouse grown cocktail tomato that is slightly larger than a cherry tomato.
They are generally sold in a clamshell package, with most still attached to the vine. Campari tomatoes have a rich, sweet tomato flavor and are delicious in salads and dishes that don't require a lengthy cooking time - e.g. pasta, bruschetta, pizza.
For this recipe you can substitute about 3/4 of a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes if you can't find the Campari.