Sicilian Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

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 alongside sautéed Tomatoes

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

    Mise en place

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.

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42 thoughts on “Sicilian Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

  1. Well, that does it! You’ve made the top of my list now for “recipes”. Pioneer Woman is no longer #1 in my book. This looks scrumptious. A definate “will make”!

    1. Hi Sue, What can I say but thank you very much for such a wonderful compliment. I hope you will enjoy it as much as my family does.

  2. I was going to cook a favourite broccoli, anchovy and chilli pasta tomorrow night, but I have a lot of pine nuts, raisins, etc so I’m guessing there’s going to be a change of plan – cool recipe with the Moorish tastes of Sicily.

  3. Oh this looks yummy! I love pine nuts, but they cost the moon… wonder how it would be with walnuts instead? Just a *little* cheat (grin).

    1. Thank you for your comment. I think recipes are suggestions. Our food would be very boring if we did not experiment. Thank you for agreeing with my previous comment as to substitutions.

  4. Hi karen
    This is such an amazing combination – pasta, cauliflower, anchovy and raisins. I would love to try it out sometime.

  5. Looks delicious! I’ve never tried roasting cauliflower or broccoli. Looks like a quick, satisfying and tasty summer meal. Definitely going on the list to try.

  6. Sounds like orecchiette would be a brilliant choice for this dish – I’ve always liked the “little ears”!

    I see above that someone asked about leaving out the raisins… Would you have any suggestion regarding substituting out the anchovy paste? I’m transitioning to vegetarian and don’t mind using it for now, but I’d rather not get stuck on it then have “one more thing” to “get rid of”. Plus, I haven’t ever used it so I’d have to buy a whole tube… then find creative ways to use it up.

    1. Thank you for visiting and the nice comment. I would say to anyone who is a vegetarian to just leave the paste out. It won’t have the unique taste but will still be delicious. Anchovy paste gives a complexity to a dish but is not necessary. It’s in Worcestershire sauce for example and almost always in caesar salad.

  7. Wow Karen!! This is such an amazing, tasty recipe!! In fact, this is very typical of Sicily!!! I love tomatoes with cauliflower!!! I also want to give you my compliments for the beautiful china you always use to present all your delicious dishes!!

  8. This looks and sounds delicious! The photo is gorgeous; makes me hungry! I love the color of the sautéed tomatoes in the dish, and I’m sure they taste as good as they look. I’m interested to try adding raisins to pasta dishes like these – it’s definitely something I’ll be experimenting with in the future!


  9. Mmmm… I want to make this tonight!! The flavor combination of the raisins, anchovy and pine nuts reminds me of dishes my mother use to make! The cherry tomatoes compliment the pasta really nicely too! great post!!

  10. Karen, Don’t you just love cooking at this time of year? This afternoon I picked up my weekly CSA share, and this evening I sat with cookbooks piled around me planning a week’s worth of recipes. Yum!

  11. This looks delicious! I love pine nuts added to pasta dishes. I’ve never had cauliflower with pasta before…I may have to give that a shot. 🙂

  12. This looks wonderful Karen, and I’m going to try it! I love the combination of nuts, raisins and vegetables, and I make a pasta dish that includes greens, roasted tomatoes, sausage, nuts and currants which is Sicily-inspired. It started out with raisins, but I found that the currants were a bit less sweet, so perhaps that might work in your recipe for non-fans of raisins.~Betsy

  13. This looks fabulous! I just love adding cauliflower to pasta, it adds a surprising silky texture. In response to Michelle’s question about replacing the anchoivy paste to make the dish vegetarian, I often add chopped kalamata olives and capers to add a similar salty, briny flavor to a vegetarian dish.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion of olives and capers in place of anchovy paste. That’s what I like about my fellow bloggers…always willing to help.

  14. Holy Cow, I’m so excited to have this recipe!!!!! I was in Sicily years ago and had something similar and have tried to recreate it many times. I can’t wait to make this scrumptious dish, Karen. Boookmarked! Thanks so much..

  15. A wonderful looking dish that I am going to try out on my red-meat-loving husband. I bet if I don’t point it out, he won’t even notice the lack of “meat.”

  16. What a delicious pasta dish! I love this combination of ingredients, sounds so flavourful… and Sicily is a place I dream of visiting, so it is like bringing it to my kitchen 😉

  17. I just made roasted cauliflower last night. Had I only seen this recipe, it would have changed the dinner plans! I agree that adding a fruit to a dish creates such a wonderful mix of sweet and savory. I’d do a quick browning of the pine nuts in a dry saute pan before adding them. A bit of lemon here might also be good as it works so well with the roasted cauliflower. Looking forward to making this recipe soon.

  18. Yummy! This is much better than the New York Times version of this dish, which calls for boiling the cauliflower. BOILED CAULIFLOWER = YUCK. ROASTED CAULIFLOWER = DELICIOUS.

    1. Hi Sheri, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad that you like my recipe. I totally agree with you, roasted cauliflower adds so much flavor to this dish. 🙂

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