This is quite a convenient dish (‘Vampire’s Enemy’ because of all the garlic), but don’t be tempted to boil the cauliflower, it so easily goes soggy. It really does cook fine in this way.
You can make the cauliflower-sausage mix ahead of time, but it doesn’t freeze very well.
If you can’t find orecchiette (which means ‘little ears’ in Italian), try conchiglette (‘little shells‘).
If you have any leftovers – pasta, or topping – they both would go well in a salad the following day….with a yoghurty dressing even…
If you can manage to get hold of some deep, dark, chocolatey and tobacco-ey Urfa pepper flakes, these go wonderfully with the earthy sausage meat instead of ordinary black pepper.
Recipe for Vampire’s Enemy Cauliflower and Sausage Pasta
For four – or, if you are two, make this amount and serve the remains the following day as a salad (see suggestion above).
- 1 small cauliflower
- 2 fat cloves of garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- 160g/½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 500g pasta – ideally orecchiette
- A small bunch of flat-leaved parsley
- 100g/1 cup pecorino
- 2 sausages – approximately 180g – ideally get spicy continental sausage, or add an extra clove of garlic
- 480ml/2 cups yoghurt – the runnier kind – The Collective Straight Up is perfect
- 80ml/⅓ cup olive oil, plus more
- Generous grinds of black pepper, or even better, some Urfa pepper flakes – just a pinch
- Generous grinds of nutmeg – do you always grate your knuckels? Go here for the best nutmeg grater
- Finishing olive oil – olive or walnut
- Pre-heat the oven to 210°C.
- Peel and crush the garlic with the salt, if you haven’t already, and mix in with the oil.
- Put plates into a plate-warmer.
- Put water on to boil, and prepare to cook pasta in usual way, according to the packet – it’ll probably take about twelve minutes.
- Meanwhile, season the yoghurt with nutmeg and pepper and warm VERY gently (put it in the aga warming oven if you are lucky enough to have one) – it just needs to be warm enough not to cool down the pasta too much.
- Divide cauliflower into VERY SMALL (walnut-sized) florets and put on a large, shallow, oiled roasting tin.
- Take the sausages out of their skins and crumble into walnuts – scatter around between the cauliflower.
- Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, and the cheese. Snip over the parsley.
- Drizzle over the garlic oil.
- put in a roasting tin and roast in the roasting oven for about five minutes, Stir around with a fish slice, and, if it looks dry, drizzle over a bit more oil. Return to the oven for another five minutes. Check the sausage is cooked through, then turn the oven off, and leave the cauliflower-sausage mix in until you are ready to serve.
- Put the pasta onto the plates, top with the yoghurt sauce, and top that with the roasted cauliflower and sausage mix.
- Drizzle over a little finishing oil – olive or walnut – and serve.
Developments of this recipe
Where did this recipe come from?
In Puglia there is a recipe involving orecchiette and turnip tops (post to come). This has morphed in other parts of Italy with the turnip tops being substituted for broccoli. I tried the final version – orecchiette con broccoli e salsiccia at the Little Italy restaurant in Bamberg – no yoghurt sauce, but it was still excellent.
What to do to raise this stalwart and easy supper dish to a new level?
On one occasion I added some white truffle sauce (about one tablespoon per person) to the yoghurt sauce, and garnished with one shaved black summer truffle per person, substituting the finishing oil to drizzle over for truffle oil (the good quality type that has seen a truffle). See image below:
Peter Gundry, The Last Dance – Vampire Music