Along the same line, you may not want to bring this pasta dish to work for lunch. Or, for that matter, eat it before talking to someone who you're trying to impress, at any time of day.
I first came across this Heaven and Hell pasta recipe a couple years ago, but never proposed it for dinner since I was pretty sure Katie would exercise her veto. You know, because of the anchovies. The _raw_ anchovies.* But the Amateur Gourmet does such a great job selling this dish, I made Katie read the blog post before making her decision. And, surprisingly, it worked.
* a box of penne (or similarly-shaped) pasta
* a head of cauliflower (although I bet this would also work with broccoli, but I feel like cauliflower is _in_ right now, so this is your chance to be one of the cool kids)
* a tin of anchovies
* a head of garlic
* some crushed red pepper or a jalapeno pepper
* whole fennel seeds
1. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces (Err on the side of smaller pieces.. these won't shrink that much, and this will make it easier to eat.)
2. Prep your flavor bowl: Chop and combine garlic, anchovies, fennel, and crushed red pepper
3. Start the pasta water (I always under-estimate how long it takes a large pot of water to come to a boil.. get this started now, and you can always let it boil until you're ready).
4. Heat a large pan, add some olive oil, and brown half the cauliflower (I fit half the head in one pan; if your pan is smaller, you may need to do it in three batches. That's okay- you want it to brown, not steam).
5. When the cauliflower is browned, remove it to a bowl and do the second half.
<Ideally, you want the water to come to a boil right when you finish browning the second batch of cauliflower. Pause here until the cauliflower and water are both ready>
6. Return the first half of cauliflower to the pan, and add half of the flavor bowl -- toss and cook for 30 seconds.
7. Add pasta to the pot.
8. Ladle one scoop of the pasta water into the pan and toss (if the water sputters and spurts when you add it, lower the heat.)
9. Cook until water is gone
10. Continue adding a scoop of pasta water and cooking it down until the pasta is cooked.
11. When the pasta is ready, transfer it to the pan with a spider or big slotted spoon (Don't worry about shaking off all the water off the pasta- you want to bring some water with it).
12. Cook the cauliflower and pasta until most of the water is gone.
13. Turn off heat, and add a splash of olive oil, the rest of the flavor bowl, and grated cheese (I never have any cheese on hand, so I skip that step)
Eat. And then think about brushing your teeth. Because in case I was too subtle in the intro, you're gonna have bad breath after eating this. But it's worth it. Besides, I barely know any single people anymore, so it's not like any of you have anyone to impress.
Katie has told me before that I can't multi-task, and making this dish did nothing to change her mind. For some reason, the way the directions are written in the original blog post didn't stick in my head, and I had a lot of trouble thinking through each step in advance. I won't lie- there may have been some chaos in the kitchen for a little while.
But now that I've made this, I can easily make it again. (From start to finish, you can do this in a solid 30 minutes.) The experience also called out how much I appreciate FoodWishes' video blogging approach, since I can see exactly what he means, if he says 'caramelize the cauliflower until they're golden brown'. Golden brown, really? This is cauliflower. It goes from white to pale to spotty brown. There's no golden there, that I've ever seen.
Besides, this was my first time cooking with anchovies, and they've won me over. I think anchovies get a bad rap. You should give them a chance.