Baked Pasta Ricotta and Cauliflower

(“Pasta al Forno con Ricotta e Cavolfiore”)
(“Pasta incasciata a Siracusana”)

 

Ricotta e Cavolfiore

 

This dish is very easy to make and it is ideal when you have guests because it can be prepared in advance. It has a beautiful presentation and most importantly has a fine taste. 
Originally this recipe was a specialty made in Syracuse, but because of the easiness to prepare it using very few ingredients with outstanding results, it became popular all over Sicily. Today every city and every town claims this recipe as their own and it is always a good argument over a glass of  good wine!...

 

SERVES 4 TO 6

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. short pasta like penne rigate or any other cut you prefer
  • 1 cauliflower, about 2 lb. Wash, remove outer leaves and hard stems and cut in small pieces.
  • 1 ½   lb. ricotta
  • ½ lb. grated cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Baking dish coated with oil about 12X10X 3 inches

 

PREPARATION


In a large pot, bring enough salted water to a boil to cook pasta, following manufacturer recommendations. We suggest using 6 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta. 
When water boils add the cauliflower florets.  Blanch them briefly, using a perforated spoon remove the florets from the water, drain well and return the water to a boil.
Pour olive oil in a skillet and at a high heat sauté cauliflower a few minutes.
Cook pasta in the water used to boil the cauliflower and cook it al dente, 3 minutes less than directions on package.
At the same time, in a large bowl combine the ricotta with enough of the water that the pasta is cooking in to give it the consistency of yogurt.
Drain pasta and reserve some water.
Toss the pasta in the bowl with ricotta, some cheese, pepper and mix it well.
Taste for salt. If pasta is too dry, add some of the reserved water.
Arrange in the baking dish placing a layer of pasta and ricotta, sprinkle some cheese and follow by a layer of cauliflower’s florets. Repeat the procedure making 2 or 3 layers.
Beat eggs, mix in it the left over cheese and pour over pasta.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until eggs are cooked to a golden brown. If prepared in advance cover with eggs at the last minute.
NOTE

If covering the pasta with eggs does not appeal to you, substitute it with a mixture of 1 cup of milk combined with ½ lb ricotta. Sprinkle with a mixture of a tablespoon of grated cheese, and a tablespoon of toasted bread crumbs.