I have a confession: 10 years ago, my idea of pasta for dinner consisted of boiling dry pasta from a box and adding Prego. My world opened up when I discovered a myriad of different sauces (brown butter sage, aglio e olio, etc) that are simple to make and well worth the effort. I found this recipe in Food & Wine by my favorite Philadelphia chef, Marc Vetri (Osteria and Vetri). This recipe has layers of complex flavors (anchovies, garlic, onion), umami overload (anchovies and parmesan), and has nice added texture (toasted spicy bread crumbs).
12 oz - Fettuccine
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp - Extra-virgin Olive Oil
12 oz - Cauliflower florets (cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 - Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
4 - Garlic Cloves (thinly sliced)
5 - Oil-packed Anchovy Fillets (minced)
1/2 tsp - Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp - Rosemary (chopped)
1 tsp - Thyme (chopped)
1/2 cup - Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup - Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus more for serving)
1/2 inch - Chorizo (minced)
Ground Black Pepper
1) In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
2) Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the cauliflower and season with salt and black pepper; cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of oil to the skillet along with the onion, garlic, anchovies, crushed red pepper, rosemary and thyme; cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, about 3 minutes. Keep warm.
3) In a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and chorizo and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl.
4) Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the vegetables and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the water is nearly absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Serve the pasta in wide bowls, passing the bread crumbs and additional cheese at the table.