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Cauliflower Ragu



1 head cauliflower

¾ cup olive oil, divided

½ onion, shredded

5 cloves garlic, chopped

¼ teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon dry oregano

2 anchovy fillets

½ cup white wine

1 Pecorino Romano cheese rind

1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 pounds fresh rigatoni, or 1 pound preferred brand of dry rigatoni (Chef Wilson uses Lazzaroli pasta, handmade in Nashville)

½ cup Pecorino Romano, grated, plus extra for serving


  1. Remove core of cauliflower and chop fine florets through the stem.
  2. In a saucepot set over medium heat, sweat the cauliflower in ½ cup of olive oil until tender and translucent.
  3. Add onions and sweat until tender and translucent.
  4. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Add chili flakes, oregano, and anchovy. Cook 2 minutes.
  6. Add wine and cheese rind. Cook 5 minutes.
  7. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring and tasting regularly. (Chef’s note: make the sauce 1 day ahead for most flavorful result.)
  8. To assemble the dish, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season well. (Note: this means salt the water until it tastes like sea water.)
  9. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water before draining.
  10. Add 2 cups of the tomato sauce back to pot, along with pasta and enough water to make it come together, about ½–1 cup.
  11. Return to heat and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Stir in remaining ¼ cup olive oil and grated Pecorino.
  12. Top with more Pecorino and serve warm.
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