Google+ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery: Italian Penne with Cauliflower and Capers


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Italian Penne with Cauliflower and Capers

This warm fall dish is based on a traditional pasta dish from Sicily known as Ditali.  Typically it would include bread crumbs that are toasted in a skillet with oil.  In order to make this gluten-free, I used rice pasta, and realized that the gluten-free bread crumbs I get from our local market are hard and gritty enough without any extra frying needed.  Skipping this step not only saves time, it reduces the calorie count in this homey dish.

Cauliflower is a vegetable we didn't eat in my house growing up (I think my mother didn't like it).  As a result, every year I am learning more and more new ways to cook this healthy veg, and I am always amazed at how different it tastes each time, depending on what it is cooked with.

This sauce is very simple - just add everything to a pot and simmer for a few minutes.  The cauliflower isn't pureed, it's chopped, and the cooking time is short enough that it will retain its texture, giving the dish a nice bite (I've mentioned here before how I dislike mushy food!).  The addition of capers is what really makes this pasta special... that sharp, salty flavor wakes up the vegetables and keeps you wanting more.

In the traditional recipe, the bread crumbs are sprinkled on top of the pasta, but I ended up mixing them right in, as they needed a little softening.

(This dish was inspired by a recipe in the Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen cookbook.)

Italian Penne with Cauliflower and Capers

16 oz. rice pasta (penne shaped)
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1 head cauliflower, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a 24 oz. jar tomato sauce
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  In a large skillet, cook the cauliflower in a little oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the bread crumbs) and simmer, first on high, then on low for about 15 minutes.  Toss the pasta into the sauce to warm it up, mix in the bread crumbs and serve.

Shared with Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager and Foodie Wednesday at Frugal Wannabe Cooks and Wellness Weekend at Diet Dessert and Dogs and Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and Freaky Friday at Real Food Freaks and Just Another Meatless Monday at Hey What's For Dinner Mom? and My Meatless Monday at My Sweet and Savory and Meatless Monday at Midnight Maniac.


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog! I think Levain Cookies are totally worth the trip to NYC ;) Also, I've never used rice pasta - does it taste like regular pasta? Now I'm intrigued....

  2. @ Rachel - Rice pasta is a bit thicker and starchier than regular pasta, but I kind of like it better that way :)