Rigatoni with Cauliflower

Rigatoni with Cauliflower

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 postThe 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:

Serves 4-6

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,


11 comments on “Rigatoni with Cauliflower

  1. Mad Dog says:

    I can appreciate resistance to cauliflower on pasta, but, it is one of my favourite vegetables and Coleman Andrews does make a big effort with his recipes – count me in 😉

    • expatchef says:

      Haha Craig! I love cauliflower, and the health benefits that go along with it! Yes, his recipes are fantastic. And the book itself, so informative with all the sidebars!

  2. Love anchovies and love cauliflower, so I know I’d love this 🙂

  3. Mmm what a brilliant combination of flavours 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. lieberlecker says:

    Looks and sounds like I would love it!
    Best regards from Zurich,

  5. How lucky your family have you Carla! I often put the vegetables in full view for my sweetheart and he just to eat them! I love the idea of the tomato & anchovy crumble too, well namely because I just love those ingredients 🙂

    • expatchef says:

      Thanks Alice, sometimes my daughter makes a fuss about the food she’s getting. I keep on telling her, one day, you’ll look back and wish to have your mum cooking for you again! But they are super receptive otherwise! 🙂

      • Especially when you make most of her favourite’s anyhow! I still remember the catering you did for her last birthday, those girls must have been spoilt and rightly so because you cook for those you love too 🙂

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