Melissa Rubel Jacobson uses a few great shortcuts to make her creamy baked pasta. She starts by boiling the cauliflower and rigatoni together in one pot. Then, for a quick and supercrispy topping, she sprinkles the dish with Parmigiano-panko crumbs and broils it. The topping browns perfectly in only two minutes.
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3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound rigatoni
One 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons
How to Make It
Preheat the broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the rigatoni until al dente; about 6 minutes before the rigatoni is done, add the cauliflower florets to the pot. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the panko with the Parmigiano cheese and the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
Return the rigatoni and cauliflower to the pot. Add the garlic cream, the prosciutto and the reserved pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated. Scrape the pasta into a large shallow baking dish and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top. Broil for about 2 minutes, rotating constantly, until the topping is evenly browned. Serve hot.
Cherry-rich red blend, such as one from Tuscany.
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