Rigatoni with Cauliflower and Tomato Sauce

Even if you've never been particularly fond of cauliflower, we think you'll find this pasta pretty irresistible. The vegetable is braised with garlic, sweet raisins, and crushed tomatoes until tender and then tossed with crunchy pine nuts and chunky rigatoni. What's not to love?


Slideshow: Fast Weekday Pastas


  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into small florets (about 1 quart florets)
  • 1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 15-ounce can)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup thin-sliced basil leaves or chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or toast them in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to moderate. Add the cauliflower, tomatoes, raisins, water, and salt and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.

  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rigatoni until just done, about 14 minutes. Drain the rigatoni and toss with the pine nuts, cauliflower sauce, basil, Parmesan, and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Suggested Pairing

Barbera is the everyday wine of the Piedmontese, and this pasta will show you why. High in acid, low in tannin, and chock-full of bright blackberry fruitiness, Barberas are perhaps the best wines in the world to serve with tomato-based dishes.

Photo © Melanie Acevedo Published May 2014

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