Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Bacon
Fresh cauliflower develops a wonderful sweetness when roasted at a high heat and combined with crisp bacon, lots of garlic and sweet cherry tomatoes, it makes a delicious basis for an easy and flavorful pasta dinner.
- 10 ounces pasta (penne, rotini)
- 1 medium head cauliflower, separated into florets
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved
- Parmesan cheese for grating
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick spray. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- Place the cauliflower in a large bowl, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
- Roast until the florets are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the edges begin to turn golden, 20 to 25 minutes. 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 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Add the tomatoes, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook just long enough for the tomatoes to soften but not break down, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Add the cauliflower and bacon, drizzle with a little extra olive oil and and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the tomato mixture and toss again.
- To serve, divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with grated Parmesan.
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.