It is amazing how many variations of sauces there are for pasta. Although there are some that can be found throughout Italy, such as carbonara, ragu bolognese, al pommodoro, there are some that are truly autochthonous to a certain region. For example, the only place that I have seen pasta to be eaten with lentils, is Naples. This one, rigatoni with cauliflower, is from Sicily.
My household wasn’t very excited at the prospect of having cauliflower with their pasta, probably because my fiancé Paolo is from the north, and you just Don’t. Put. Cauliflower. On. Pasta. Period.
But, I need them to eat their veg, and I figured under the tomatoes and anchovies and breadcrumbs, it would be well masked. This dish is great for anyone that want to get their vitamins and some omega 3’s in a plate of pasta. Seriously, isn’t that the best way? (Unless you are allergic to gluten, that is!)
This is another recipe from the book that I mentioned in my last post, The Country Cooking of Italy, by Colman Andrews. I have to admit, I was unsure of how it was going to taste, since I never actually ate this anywhere in Sicily, but to all of our surprise, it was really delicious! If you aren’t fond of anchovies, you can omit or lessen the amount. I personally love them, but I know they aren’t everyone’s favorite!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1 small head of cauliflower, separated into florets and finely chopped
6-8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp peperoncini
salt and pepper to taste
5 whole canned san marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 lb rigatoni
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, stir well, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are well toasted, about 15 minutes. Set them aside.
Add the remaining oil to the same frying pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. Stir in the anchovies, garlic, and peperoncini and season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 20 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes to the cauliflower mixture, stir well, and continue to cook, uncovered, until the tomato liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8-12 minutes. Drain the pasta well and return it to the pot. Stir in the cauliflower mixture and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Pass the breadcrumbs at the table.
From my kitchen to yours,