Pasta with Cauliflower
Pasta con Cavolfiore
Pasta chi Vrocculi Arriminati
Cauliflower grows abundantly
the country-side around Palermo. The cauliflower is a
member of the cabbage family, it is made of bunches of florets crowned at the base by green leaves. Although
it looks very elegant, it has a very bland taste. This has been a challenge for chefs and housewives and it
has moved them to create new dishes where the rich appearance of the cauliflower could be associated to the
taste of local products which would produce food to be appreciated by their families or in the local
One of such dishes is the pasta with cauliflower sauce, a distinctive dish from Palermo. We call it “arriminata” meaning literally mixed, but for us Palermitani, the word means
mixed with love and patience. In fact the arriminatura, the mixing, is the most important part of this preparation,
where a wooden spoon has to be used and the stirring has to be slow and
When the pasta is combined with cauliflower, saffron, onions, salted anchovies, toasted pine
nuts and raisins, the scent and the taste is overwhelming.
The traditional type of pasta used is the perciatelli or bucatini which is thicker spaghetti with a hole. If
it is unavailable use any other type of pasta handy in your pantry.
4 to 6
1 lb. pasta,
preferably perciatelli or bucatini
2 medium size
onions finely chopped
1 tablespoon of
1 head of
cauliflower, stems discarded, washed, cut into florets and blanched
anchovy fillets rinsed. (Use up to 6 anchovies to suit your taste)
10 tablespoons of olive
toasted pine nuts (or chopped toasted almonds)
currants or raisins
salt and pepper
2 pinches of
saffron, dissolved with a ladle of pasta water
4 oz grated
pecorino or your favorite cheese
Over a medium flame, heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil in a 3 quart saucepan.
Add diced onions, sauté until onions are golden, about 7 minutes. Set on the side.
In a 10 inch skillet, over a medium flame, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil add
2 tablespoons of sautéed onions and breadcrumbs. Keep stirring until crumbs are light brown. Place in a container
and set aside.
In a 12 to 14 inch sauté pan, over high flame, transfer the remaining sauteed onions. Add the tomato paste and while
stirring constantly, slowly add 2 cups of water. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the cauliflower, raise heat to high and while stirring slowly, add 2 cups of water, a little at a time as the
cauliflower attaching to the pan will turn lightly brown and acquire a unique smell and taste. Cook for
additional 5 minutes over high heat.
In a small plate, using a fork, mash the anchovies with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
Lower the flame on the sauce, add anchovies, pine nuts, currants and simmer for about 10 minutes
Add pepper to taste and check if salt is needed.
The Pasta Tossed with
Cook pasta according to manufacture’s directions reducing recommended cooking time by 2 minutes. Reserve a cup of
Drain pasta and “arrimina” (toss) into the sauté pan with the sauce. Add the saffron and toss until pasta and sauce
are well combined, add grated cheese and gently turn for about 2 minutes over a low heat.
If it’s too dry, add some of the reserved water. Serve immediately garnished with breadcrumbs and serve remaining
breadcrumbs on the side.
This pasta can be prepared in
advance and baked at the last minute.
Reduce suggested cooking time by 4 minutes. When you toss the pasta with the sauce add an additional ¼ cup of
olive oil, a full cup of the reserved water, and pour in a greased pan 13X9X2 inch.
If pan was refrigerated bring it to room temperature and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until hot.