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Vegan Penne with Cauliflower Ragu
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 2 lbs.)
- 3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-in. dice
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
- 3 tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 lb. penne
- 3/4 cup freshly vegan Parmesan or nutritional yeast or a combination, plus extra for serving
- Parsley as garnish
Halve cauliflower. Remove leaves and cut out core and reserve. Cut cauliflower into small bite-size florets, reserving stalks. Chop core, leaves, and stalks.
Combine oil, onion, garlic, and cauliflower core, leaves, and stalks in large pot, season with sea salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until leaves are just beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are just tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
Add cauliflower florets, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to gentle simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is almost falling apart, 22 to 25 minutes. Add butter, stirring gently until it melts; season well with sea salt. Remove from heat.
Bring 6 quarts water to boil in large pot and add 3 tbs. kosher salt. Drop in pasta and cook until just al dente.
Drain pasta, reserving about 1/3 cup pasta water. Add pasta and 1/3 cup reserved water to ragu. Toss over medium heat until pasta is well coated (add more pasta water to thin sauce). Stir in cheese.