Penne with Cauliflower and Leeks


This extremely flexible recipe can be adapted to include several different kinds of seasonal vegetables. In winter and spring, Salvatore Denaro might make it with Umbria's small, violet-colored artichokes; in the fall he prefers cauliflower or broccoli. A pretty alternative is pasta con cavolfiore e broccoli siciliani, with equal parts cauliflower and broccoli; the dish is also terrific made with leeks alone. More Healthy Pastas

Penne with Cauliflower and Leeks
Photo: © Dana Gallagher
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins


  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts thinly sliced crosswise

  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1 pound cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

  • 1 fresh red chile, seeded and thinly sliced

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 3/4 pound penne rigate

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the leeks are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and chile. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, about 25 minutes. Add the wine and water, cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 12 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain the pasta, then toss it with the vegetables in the skillet. Season with salt and black pepper and serve.

Make Ahead

The vegetables can be prepared up to 5 hours ahead.

Suggested Pairing

Orvieto, the dry Umbrian white wine made principally from Trebbiano and Grechetto grapes, typically offers fresh flavors and a lightly almondy finish—the latter a particularly nice partner for cauliflower, which has its own nutty character.

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