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Dinner Tonight! | SECOND HELPINGS

Cauliflower Bouquet

March 22, 2000|DIANE MORGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

At 5:30 in the evening, I'm often sitting in the bleachers watching baseball practice instead of making dinner. During warmups, while some parents discuss a missed relay, I find myself dreaming up ideas for quick pasta sauces. My objective on these busy nights is to make a sauce in the time it takes to boil water and cook a package of pasta.

Last weekend, I steamed a head of cauliflower to accompany a roast chicken dinner. After steaming, I set aside about five large florets for leftovers and served the rest with a quick topping of toasted bread crumbs. I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in a small skillet, stirred in about 1/3 cup dried bread crumbs and toasted until browned.

Before I left for the field, I had scanned the pantry shelves and found anchovies, currants and pine nuts. Who knows, maybe I was dreaming about a Mediterranean beach on a dark winter's night, but this was the quick sauce I put together while the pasta cooked.

Morgan is author of "Cooking for the Week: Leisurely Weekend Cooking for Easy Weekday Meals," (Chronicle Books, $18.95).

Rigatoni With Cauliflower

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

1/3 cup currants

1/2 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

Salt

1 pound rigatoni pasta

1/3 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked cauliflower, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

8 anchovy filets, rinsed, patted dry and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Freshly ground pepper

* Place currants in small bowl, cover with wine and set aside to plump, about 10 minutes.

* Bring large pot salted water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.

* While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and toast, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Set aside on plate. Add olive oil to skillet, and saute garlic until golden, about 1 minute. Add cauliflower and saute over medium-high heat, stirring often until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add currants, wine, capers, anchovies, red pepper flakes and parsley. Simmer 2 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat.

* Drain pasta and place in warm serving bowl. Add cauliflower mixture and pine nuts, toss to combine. Serve immediately.

4 main-course servings. Each serving: 614 calories; 539 mg sodium; 7 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 94 grams carbohydrates; 22 grams protein; 1.70 grams fiber.

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