(“Polpette di Cavolfiore” – “Vastidduzzi chi Vrocculi”)
When I lived in Palermo, at dinner time, my mother served the cauliflower pancakes as a side dish or as a main dish
paired with fresh cheese, green salad, sautéed vegetables and the delicious bread made in my hometown that Palermo
is famous for.
My mother made the cauliflower fritters, “vastidduzzi di
vrocculi” in the traditional way, personalized with the addition of passulina e
pignoli, - currants and pine nuts- that she added to her cooking whenever she could…
A similar nosh was prepared by the Jewish cooks living in Sicily at the time of the first Diaspora in the 8th
century before Christ. In fact today “latkes”, served
for Hanukkah and all year around are pancakes made with potatoes, eggs, herbs, spices and matzo meal; which we
believe they were originally made with cheese or with cauliflower as the main ingredients, as they are prepared in
Sicily. In reality potatoes were not around in biblical times, since they arrived from the Americas in the XV
My family recipe contains cauliflower, cheese, eggs, parsley, onions, salt, peppers, toasted pine nuts, currants,
and very fine dry breadcrumbs.
It is one of my favorite snack or side dish because it’s a light and exquisite delicacy, with an appetizing aroma
and an addictive taste.
MAKES 25 TO 30 FRITTERS
1 cauliflower (1½ to 2 lb.)
1 onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium eggs
½ cup of your preferred grated cheese
¼ cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts (optional)
1 tablespoon currants soaked in water (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs (more or less to get a workable, firm mixture)
1 cup flour for dipping the fritters
Oil for frying
Trim the cauliflower discarding the stems and leaves; cut to separate it into florets and soak in cold water for 30
In a 6 quart sauce pot, over a high flame, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.
When the water boils, add 1 tablespoon of salt, wash the cauliflower and drop into pot. When the water returns to a
boil, cook for 7 minutes, drain and set on side.
In a large sauté pot heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add
the cauliflower, raise heat to high and while stirring slowly, add the toasted pine nuts and drained currants. Cook
for 5 minutes than lower the flame. If the cauliflower attaches to the pot and turns lightly brown, it is the
sweetness of the onion caramelizing, which gives the cauliflower a unique smell and taste.
Lower the flame, start to mash the cauliflower with a fork and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add pepper to taste and check if salt is needed.
Transfer the crushed cauliflower to a bowl and when it cools off add the eggs lightly beaten, the cheese, parsley
and ¼ cup of breadcrumbs.
Add more breadcrumbs if needed in order to get the mixture to a workable consistency. Form the mixture into balls
1½ inch in diameter, roll into flour and gently pat into patties. Set on a well floured pan.
Heat a heavy duty skillet with olive oil ½ inch deep.
At 350 degree, before it starts to smoke (at 375 degrees) drop the fritters, “le polpette di
cavolfiore” a few at the time until golden, typically 5 minutes at each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve
hot, but at room temperature are even tastier.