April Bloomfield just bought North Beach’s iconic Tosca Cafe on Columbus and will soon be serving her food there. She has a cult following at her restaurant The Spotted Pig in NYC’s Greenwich Village. I wondered what was in store for us when she arrives here in North Beach.
She describes her dishes as “British, but with Italian undertones.” I haven’t been to The Pig and I wanted to find out more about April’s British take on Italian food.
I came across one of April’s pasta recipes and decided to give it a go. I’m adding it to my list of dishes where the sauce can be cooked in the time it takes to boil the pasta. You can get these pasta dishes on your table in less than 30 minutes.
April first had the dish in Puglia, the southern most region on Italia’s Adriatic coast where it was served by a skilled home cook she was visiting. Her hostess made it with homemade orecchiette, small ear-shaped pasta. Quality dried orecchiette from Italia works well too.
Don’t be scared off by the anchovy in the sauce. Anchovy melts in hot oil and adds dimension to any dish. It’s an umami, like miso, a preserved ingredient that is known as a “5th taste”. The anchovy in this dish adds flavor and depth to the sauce.
The little pasta hats capture the sauce. The anchovy and garlic sauce is mellowed by the sweet cauliflower with a rosemary accent.
I love this pasta and can’t wait for April Bloomfield to wow us with more of her food at the revived Tosca Cafe. Try my riff on her recipe to get a preview of what’s coming to North Beach.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 pound or 500 grams imported Italian dried orecchiette
- 3 tablespoons EVOO, plus a drizzle to finish the dish
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 3 anchovy filets, chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmigiano
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
- Cut the cauliflower florets into bite size pieces.
- Cook the florets in the boiling water and cook until knife-tender, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the florets with a slotted spoon or spider to a plate and set aside.
- Over a medium-low flame, put the EVOO in a saute pan large enough to hold the pasta.
- Add the onion and garlic, add a sprinkling of salt and cook until the onion is soft and slightly caramelized.
- Add the anchovy and rosemary and mix well with the onion. Cook for about 2 minutes. The anchovy will dissolve and disappear.
- Add the florets and a sprinkle of salt and mix well with the other vegetables. Cook for about 10 minutes. (If the sauce is too dense add some boiling water.)
- While the cauliflower is cooking add the orecchiette to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
- Strain or drain the orecchiette and add to the cauliflower sauce. (If you drain the sauce, reserve a cup of the pasta water.)
- Coat the orecchiette well with the sauce and cook for about a minute or so. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Put the orecchiette on a serving platter, top with a drizzle of a good finishing EVOO and the grated parmigiano.
- Serve immediately.