September 2, 2021

Mafaldine With Spicy Cauliflower Ragù & Guanciale

Recipe: Philip Haddad

“My favorite pasta dish is alla gricia, which is typically just cheese and guanciale. We wanted to cut some of the fat by adding a vegetable. The cauliflower is cooked to death and lightens the dish and brings a whole other dimension,” says Emmer owner Philip Haddad. Emmer makes its own pastas in-house, including mafaldine.


  • 150 g guanciale (can substitute pancetta or unsmoked bacon), cubed into 1⁄2″-sq. pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1⁄2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 lb. cauliflower (stems, leaves and florets chopped into medium-size pieces)
  • 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
  • 1⁄2 lb. dried mafaldine or any other preferred pasta shape
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1⁄3 cup grated Pecorino
  • 1⁄3 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄3 cup toasted breadcrumbs (toast breadcrumbs in pan with 1 tbsp of oil until lightly brown)


Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Cook Guanciale

  1. In pan, slowly cook guanciale over low until it’s rendered its fat and turned golden brown (approximately 8 to 10 minutes). Remove from pan, leaving fat behind.
  2. Increase heat to medium and cook onion until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add cauliflower and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then add white wine. Cover and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until cauliflower is very soft and can be mashed easily with back of spoon.

Cook Pasta & Serve

  1. In pot of salted boiling water, cook mafaldine until al dente (1 minute shy of package instructions). Save 1⁄2 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.
  2. Add pasta to cauliflower ragù with 1⁄4 cup of reserved water and mix vigorously. Off heat, add butter, cheeses, salt and pepper, and mix until creamy. Add reserved water as needed to achieve your preferred consistency. Divide pasta evenly onto plates and top with crispy guanciale and breadcrumbs.

Stacey Brandford


House & Home September 2021