Recipe for Pasta al Cavolfiore: Sicilian Cuisine
Pinenuts and currants star often in Sicilian cuisine, so richly influenced by Middle Eastern culinary heritage. They enhance la pasta al cavolfiore (“pasta with cauliflower), a filling, tasty Sicilian winter dish Pino’s wonderful mother, Signora Vincenza, taught me years ago.
It’s always been a favorite winter pasta dish in our house.
Here’s how to make Pasta al Cavolfiore:
- penne or rigatoni pasta (use 1 lb for every 5 persons)
- a head of cauliflower
- a bottle of tomato sauce
- extra virgin olive oil, q. b. (quanto basta or “as much as you need”)
- a handful of currants (or use raisins..though currants are preferred)
- a handful of pine nuts
- a small onion
- salt, pepper, q.b.
- Parmesan cheese, q.b.
- optional: a couple anchovies, preserved in oil (Signora Vincenza always added a couple anchovies to simmering onion)
- another optional addition: a red chili pepper
Wash cauliflower, cutting into flowerets. Use the leaves, too, cutting into small pieces.
Cook cauliflower in salted boiling water and drain when al dente (“to the tooth,” ie, cauliflower should not be soft) – might take less than ten minutes. Save the water in which you cooked the cauliflower – as you will cook the pasta in this water.
Simmer diced onion in extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan.
When onion golden, add steamed cauliflower and simmer a few minutes.
Add tomato sauce.
Simmer about ten minutes and then add pine nuts and raisins and salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer briefly until sauce thickens a bit.
Cook pasta in boiling cauliflower water, draining when al dente.
Season with cauliflower sauce and add pepper as needed. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Read about cooking up pasta al cavolfiore at a Dallas cooking class
Read about how this dish enthused a Pennsylvania cooking class
Click here to read about and see cooking up this dish in a California class
We cooked up this dish in Arizona, too!
Read more on Signora Vincenza’s buonissimo Sicilian cooking
Click here for another Sicilian recipe taught me by Signora Vincenza
Click here for more recipes