By Katie Cizewski | January 17, 2011

Photo: Katie Cizewski

What comes to mind when you think of classic American food?  For me, the Gourmet Cookbook comes to mind.  On a recent skim through this classic cookbook I was pleasantly surprised at the number of vegetarian recipes it contained.

The description before one pasta dish reads, “This gutsy country dish makes a great meatless main course.”  That dish is Orecchiette with Cauliflower and Lacinato Kale and here is the delicious and satisfying vegetarian recipe (the anchovy fillets have been left out to keep the dish truly vegetarian).

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbsfrom a rustic Italian of French loaf (crust discarded)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower(1 pond), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb lacinato kaleor regular kale, stems and ribs discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 small Serrano chiles or fresh Thai chiles, finely chopped (including seeds)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb orecchiette
  • 1 1/3 cups finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano(about 3 ounces)


1. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread bread crumbs in a shallow baking pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, cook cauliflower in a 6 to 18 quart pot of boiling water (1 tablespoon salt per every 4 quarts water) until very tender, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to a bowl. Remove and reserve 1 cup cooking water. Cook kale in remaining boiling water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing on kale to remove excess water.

4. Heat 1/3 cup oil in a deep 12 to 13 inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic and chilies and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add cauliflower and coarsely mash with back of spoon or a potato masher. Stir in kale, 1/2 cup parsley, and 2/3 cup reserved cooking water. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat.

5. Cook pasta in a 6 to 8 quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt per every 4 quarts water) until al dente; drain.

6. Add pasta to sauce and heat over moderate heat, stirring. Stir in cheese and remaining 1/2 cup parsley. If pasta seems to dry, stir in a little more cooking water. Serve pasta drizzled with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkled with bread crumbs.

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