Pasta with Cauliflower is one of the staples of Sicilian cuisine.
During cold season it’s one of the most comforting dishes you can treats yourself to.
It’s made with all typical ingredients from this territory like purple cauliflower, pine nuts, raisins, anchovies and saffron.
In Sicilian dialect you’ll often hear it by the name “Pasta chi vrocculi arriminati”.
Vrocculi – refers to Sicilian purple cauliflower.
Arriminati – simply means tossed in a pan.
There you go! Now, you speak Sicilian 😃 JK
Tips & Variations
The protagonist of this pasta.
If you happen to get a purple cauliflower, get it by all means. It’s not that it’s so much different in flavor (in fact, it’s not!) but it’s considerably richer in antioxidants and carotenoids.
PLUS it’ll be a pure joy to look at it and work with it as you make this cauliflower pasta.
But if you if can’t get purple cauliflower, use white cauliflower instead. It works equally well.
Adding a pinch of ground saffron will give your pasta a light saffron taste and brighten up the colors. I usually skip it (personal taste) but since traditional recipe calls for it I should have let you know.
Onion, Shallot or Garlic
You can use any OR a combination of the above. Most classic way is of course with onion. But you can adjust it for yourself without changing the core of the dish.
And if you know me, I love using shallots practically everywhere! Lol
Skip the boiling of cauliflower. Instead, chop it in smaller pieces (you can pulse it in food processor as well) and cook in the pan with some water. Then, add all the ingredients as stated in the recipe.
I often skip raisins as well. But I certainly encourage you to try it WITH raisins if you’ve never tasted this pasta before. Raisins add a very interesting sweet flavor that pairs really well with savory anchovies, creamy cauliflower and pine nuts. Don’t add much the first time you make this, test and adjust as you like.
Simplified Version. And finally you can even simply this pasta further. Skip everything but onion/shallot and anchovies. Oh, and you don’t want to skip cauliflower in a cauliflower pasta, right? That’s a super simple and super light take on this Sicilian classics.
Choosing Pasta Shape
What pasta shape is the best for cauliflower pasta? – Almost any!
I used buccatini this time around, but you can use spaghetti, linguine and even short types of pasta as penne, cellentani, rigatoni, fussilli and more.
EXTRA TIP: if you’re making extra pasta to use the next day, it’s better to choose short pasta.
It’ll be easier to fry it in the pan.
And that gorgeous crisp…!!?? Heaven!!
I feel you’re armed enough will all the deets now, so let’s get to the recipe 🙂
Pasta With Cauliflower Sicilian Style
- 12 oz pasta (buccatini, spaghetti or short pasta)
- 1 head cauliflower, medium size (purple or white)
- 1 shallot or onion
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 4-5 anchovy fillets
- 3-4 tbsp breadcrumbs , toasted
- 2 tbsp raisins
- Saffron (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While water is starting to boil clean the cauliflower. Remove all extra thick stems. Trim and cut cauliflower into small bite-sized florets.
- Boil in salted water for 5-10 minutes until fork-tender at the thickest part of the stem.
- While cauliflower is boiling, put a large skillet pan over medium heat and toast breadcrumbs until golden brown. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
- In the same skillet pan add extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped shallot or onion. Let simmer on low heat for a few minutes without letting it brown.
- Using oil skimmer or strainer scoop cauliflower out of the pot and add it directly to the skillet pan.
- Put pasta to boil in the same pot you used to boil cauliflower.Cook according to directions on the package.
- In the meantime finish the sauce.
Add anchovy fillets and bread them gently with a wooden spoon.Add pine nuts and raisins.
- Drain pasta reserving some cooking liquid.
- Add pasta to the pan with the sauce and toss it for another minute. If pasta seems too dry add some cooking liquid from pasta.
- Serve immediately topped with toasted breadcrumbs.
Have you ever tried cauliflower pasta before?
What’s your favorite way to make it: classic or tweaked?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂