Baked Ziti With Cauliflower

A Pound Of Ziti Pasta

A Head Of Cauliflower Stems Removed And Cut Into Florets

Three Cloves Of Garlic Minced

A Third Of A Cup Of Pine Nuts

A Teaspoon Of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Two Tablespoons And A Teaspoon Of Sea Salt, Divided

A Cup And Two Tablespoons Of Grated Romano Cheese, Divided

1/4 Teaspoon Of Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Cup Of Panko Bread Crumbs

Three Tablespoons Of Olive Oil, Divided

Into a large pot of cold water, add two tablespoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil and add the cauliflower florets. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cauliflower but do not discard the water. Drain the cauliflower and set aside. Add the ziti to the boiling water. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Before draining, remove two cups of the pasta water. Drain the ziti well in a colander and set aside.

Into a large skillet, add the garlic, a teaspoon of sea salt, the black pepper and the crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute on medium high heat stirring frequently. Add the pine nuts. Cook for one minute stirring frequently. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until the florets are well coated with the olive oil, garlic and pine nuts.  Take the skillet off of the heat and set aside.   

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Into a greased Dutch oven, add the ziti, the cauliflower florets with the garlic and pine nuts, a cup of grated Romano cheese, and the reserved pasta water. Mix well until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Into a mixing bowl, add the Panko bread crumbs and two tablespoons of grated Romano cheese.  Mix well. Add two tablespoons of olive oil or just enough to moisten the bread crumbs. Top the ziti with the bread crumb mixture spreading it out evenly.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

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