If I ever invite the artist now(and formerly) known as Prince to dinner, this is totally what I'm serving. Because it's purple. And I don't eat other more famously purple foods, like eggplant. But this was really good comfort food, and I'd totally make it again (like when Prince comes over), and it made me inexplicably happy to eat such a happy looking meal. I'm really quite relieved it worked out so well, because I'd heard that purple cauliflower loses its color when you cook it, but mine was glorious thanks to some lemon juice (the acid helps preserve the color). And yes, you can make it with the boring white stuff, but don't expect anyone too ooh and aah before they even take a bite. That's reserved for those of us who can find the pretty.
PURPLE CAULIFLOWER AND PENNE
1 head purple cauliflower (or boring white cauliflower)
4-5 T lemon juice (probably only necessary if you're using the pretty cauliflower)
2/3 C bread crumbs
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
3 cloves garlic
4-5 strips bacon (I use turkey bacon) - obviously omit this if you want a vegetarian dish, or use some type of bacon substitute)
2/3 lb penne
~2 t salt
1 t red pepper flakes
parmigiano reggiano cheese
Prepare bowl with lemon juice. Cut the cauliflower into florets (discard stem, or use for something else). Put florets immediately into lemon juice and toss well. Prepare a pot to steam the cauliflower in, make sure that the steamer isn't actually in the water. Steam cauliflower for 2 minutes (if purple, which cooks faster, cook a bit longer for white maybe 3-5). You want the cauliflower to be done before it's mushy, absolutely. Take out, set aside (I covered, I have no idea whether or not this was critical).
Start boiling water for pasta, add penne and 1 t salt. Cook until al dente.
In a non-stick pan, melt butter and heat olive oil. Add bread crumbs and toss with spoon until all fat is incorporated, cook for 1-2 minutes. Set aside. Chop up bacon into bitesized bits. Cook until crisp. Add garlic (minced) and cook until golden. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 2 minutes on low. Add 1 t salt.
When the pasta is done add it and mix well, also add red pepper flakes.
Grate some parm into the bread crumbs and mix well.
Serve pasta/cauliflower top with bread crumbs. Yum.