This is a classic Sicilian pasta dish found throughout the different regions of Sicily where cauliflower grows abundantly. You will find green and purple varieties that are sometimes called broccoli. You see it prepared differently in each region. Saffron, tomato paste, tomatoes and toasted breadcrumbs can be found in this dish. It is usually served with spaghetti, rigatoni or bucatini pasta. This is my version of the classic recipe. The recipe makes two very generous servings for two persons. Adjust the recipe accordingly.
Sicilian Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, and Pine Nuts
- 1/2 lb. pasta (I used orecchiette)
- 1/2 head cauliflower, broken and cut into small florets
- 1/4 c. raisins, soaked and drained
- 1/4 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 inch squirt of anchovy paste from a tube or 3 anchovy filets, mashed
- 1/4 c. olive oil, more or less
- 1/4 c. dry white wine
- 1 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 T. chopped parsley
- 1 handful of grated cheese (I used pecorino)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place cauliflower florets on a baking pan, drizzle with a little oil. Salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place in hot oven and roast until lightly caramelized and tender. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook to al dente. Save a cup of the pasta water.
While pasta is cooking, sauté the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add the anchovy paste and wine, stir to mix. Add the raisins, pepper flakes and taste for seasoning. Add cooked pasta, simmer for one minute. Add just enough pasta water to keep mixture moist but not soupy. Add the roasted cauliflower, pine nuts, and a handful of cheese and gently toss. Add chopped parsley and plate. Serve with additional cheese on the side.
The raisins add a touch of sweetness to an otherwise savory pasta dish. I think that people who don’t care for cauliflower will enjoy this pasta. I like to use orecchiette as the raisins, nuts, and little bits of cauliflower seem to nestle inside the little ear shaped pasta. I served this dish with sautéed cherry tomatoes to give both color and as a nod to those cooks who put tomatoes in their recipe. I hope you will prepare and enjoy this dish.