Perciatelli is a long pasta, like fat spaghetti, only hollow. If you can’t find perciatelli, substitute any long substantial pasta. Buccatini is the same thing as perciatelli as far as I know. Spaghetti would be fine, but anything thinner might not hold up to the toppings. This recipe calls for making your own breadcrumbs. To get the delicious toasty nuttiness that this dish offers, you really need to make your own. Store bought breadcrumbs are great for coating and breading, but this dish requires a little more finesse. The good news is you have something to do with that stale bread you were going to throw away. Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3-4 T. olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 2 slices of stale whole wheat bread or 1 stale whole wheat hoagie roll or hamburger bun
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ C. fresh parsley
- ½ lb. perciatelli, buccatini, linguini, or spaghetti
- ¼ t. red pepper flakes
- ½ C. freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. First prepare the cauliflower. Trim the cauliflower head down to very small florets and pieces, about the size of popped popcorn. Toss the cauliflower in 1 T. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes or until it is beginning to turn golden brown in places. Set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Prepare the breadcrumbs. Place the bread into the food processor and pulse until it becomes coarse and pea sized. About ten seconds. Toss with 1 T. olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 7-8 minutes. While the breadcrumbs are in the oven, place the garlic and parsley in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Toss the hot toasted breadcrumbs with the garlic-parsley mixture and set aside. Both of these tasks can be done earlier in the day. Cook the pasta according to package directions. It took about ten minutes for the perciatelli to become al dente. While the pasta is boiling, reheat the cauliflower and breadcrumbs in the oven at a low temperature if necessary. Drain the pasta and return to the empty cooking pot. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Toss the pasta with a little more salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. Toss in the cauliflower and combine. If you are using cheese, add most of it at this point. Portion the pasta into serving bowls and top with about ¼ C. of the herbed breadcrumbs per plate. Top with additional parmesan if desired.