During the winter, rich, hearty dishes such as pasta can be very pleasing here in wet, chilly Marin County and many other regions throughout the U.S. Instead of preparing a flour, butter, and cream béchamel for our full-bodied sauce, we use cauliflower cooked slow until tender and then blended to make the sauce. This recipe has the added bonus of using the core of the cauliflower, which is discarded often. The creamy sauce holds up well to the sweet and bitter flavor of the balsamic grilled chicories. We highly recommend our local pasta company, Mill Valley Pasta Co.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 bunch thyme
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 head Treviso or radicchio
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon plus more to taste salt
- 1 teaspoon plus more to taste pepper
- 8 oz. Mill Valley Pasta Campanelli
Cauliflower Béchamel Sauce
Take your head of cauliflower and cut in half after trimming leaves.
Cut out the core of each half and reserve for the béchamel.
With one half, cut into large pieces the size of the cores you reserved.
All of this cauliflower goes into a pot with 6 garlic cloves and a bundle of thyme tied with kitchen string.
Cover with cold water and season water with salt
On medium high heat, bring to a simmer, once simmering cook until it is very tender and easily pierced with a knife or fork.
Drain from water with a slotted spoon and put only the cauliflower into a blender and blend until smooth, seasoning with salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Take reserved half of cauliflower and cut into thumb size pieces for roasting.
Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Roast until a little brown and cooked through, usually 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees.
Put to the side to go into the pasta later.
Preheat grill for preference or you can roast in max heat oven with fan.
Take your chicory (radicchio and Treviso are great types to use from Star Route Farms) and cut in half.
Season with balsamic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Grill on cut side until there is a little char. You don’t want it burnt, but a litter char takes away some of the bitterness and transforms the flavor of the chicory.
Put chicories on cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces to go into the pasta later.
Cook pasta until al dente and drain.
Warm your cauliflower béchamel and put your cooked pasta into it. Use pasta water to thin to your preferred consistency.
Toss half the florets and grilled chicories in with the pasta and stir until combined.
Plate pasta in bowl and garnish with reserved florets and grilled chicories. Some fresh pepper, finishing salt, and a little olive oil and balsamic before it goes to the table adds a nice touch.