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Orecchiette Pasta with Cauliflower and Mustard Breadcrumbs

Here is a unique twist on an old standby - pasta. This makes a great vegetarian meal to add to your new favourites, with the option of adding pancetta or streaky bacon if you prefer a meal with meat.

By using different pasta shapes, and getting away from the usual tomato or creamy type sauce, this easy recipe is sure to be a pleaser. For me, pasta, Caesar salad and garlic bread go hand in hand, however, a nice leafy green salad also works well as an accompaniment.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  •  2 ½ cups of dried orecchiette pasta (or small shell pasta)
  • 5 cups of small cauliflower florets
  • 1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups of fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup (packed) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
  • ½ cup of single cream
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


1. To prepare the fresh breadcrumbs, cut the crusts off of the whole wheat bread (a good rustic loaf is preferable). Tear the bread into 2 inch strips and grind in a food processor until the breadcrumbs look like coarse sand.

 2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Add the cauliflower and garlic. Cook until cauliflower is tender and pasta is tender but firm to bite, stirring occasionally for approximately 6 minutes.

3. Drain the pasta and cauliflower, reserving ½ cup of cooking liquid. Return the pasta and cauliflower to the pot and add nutmeg. Toss gently.

 4. In a non-stick frying pan melt butter over medium high heat and whisk in Dijon mustard. Add breadcrumbs and cook for about 7 or 8 minutes until they are golden and crisp, stirring to break up any clumps. (Add 8 strips of pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into small pieces and fried, if you wish at this point).

 5. Add ¾ cup of grated Parmesan, cream, lemon peel and reserved cooking liquid from pasta and cauliflower into pot with the cauliflower and pasta. Toss over medium heat until sauce simmers and coats pasta – approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Place pasta in a wide, shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and serve with the additional Parmesan cheese.



You could use frozen cauliflower, it would just need to be cooked in the boiling water, and then drained and cut up into smaller pieces if necessary.


By Alyssa Savage 

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