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Creamy Cauliflower Pasta
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  • CourseMain Dish
  • CuisineVegetarian
  • 8 oz. rigatoni (or other short-cut) pasta
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest, finely grated, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper, plus more to taste
  1. Bring a large pasta pot filled with salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente; drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re evenly toasted and golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, letting the cheese melt and clump among the bread crumbs. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cauliflower and season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Cook until the cauliflower has completely softened and both the cauliflower and shallots are beginning to caramelize and brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Add heavy cream and 1 Tbsp. lemon zest and bring to a simmer, then let the cream reduce and thicken, 2 to 4 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the pasta to the cauliflower mixture, along with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Cook, tossing to coat the pasta and thicken the sauce until it’s thick and glossy, 4-6 minutes. Add more pasta water by the tablespoon as needed.
  6. Remove from heat. Divide pasta among bowls and top with bread crumbs, chives, more lemon zest, red-pepper flakes and more cheese.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is also delicious with half-and-half instead of heavy cream and green onions instead of chives. If you like a spice, add the red pepper flakes when adding the lemon zest to cook into the pasta. Use what you have on hand and make this recipe your own!

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