Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

Courtesy photo

If you are looking for something a little different for dinner, this is a great dish, and it’s a little bit healthy too, with the addition of roasted cauliflower. Did I also mention it’s DELICIOUS!?

Sometimes making carbonara can be a little nerve racking with the incorporation of the egg yolks. This is a slightly more user friendly approach to carbonara and alleviates the stress of worrying about accidentally cooking the egg in the pan. Cooking should be fun and not something akin to say, getting a root canal. Have fun and enjoy!

Bon Appétit!   Chef Bettina

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

1 large head of cauliflower

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more

2 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, divided, plus more

1 garlic clove

6 oz. bacon, chopped

5 large egg yolks

2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

12 oz. orecchiette pasta

1/2 cup chopped parsley (from about 1/2 bunch)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove outer leaves and core of cauliflower. Cut florets into 3/4″ pieces. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and toss to combine. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until cauliflower is deeply charred in spots, 30–35 minutes. Immediately grate garlic over hot cauliflower and toss to combine; set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in salted water until al dente, and retain the pasta in the hot cooking liquid.  At the same time, cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Transfer bacon and 1 Tbsp. bacon fat to a large bowl. Add egg yolks, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 tsp. pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Whisk to combine with a fork.

Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to bowl with egg yolk mixture and toss vigorously and continuously with a wooden spoon to create a creamy emulsified sauce that coats pasta, adding more cooking liquid as needed. Keep at it for at least 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Add roasted cauliflower and parsley and toss again to coat.

Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more Parmesan and a few generous cranks of pepper.

*Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin. She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the Executive Chef and owner of the new Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits overlooking the historic lighthouse in Port Isabel.