Pasta with Sicilian Violet Cauliflower
Broccoli Siciliani & Acciughe
Sicilian Violet Cauliflower is a vegetable available all year in certain
areas of Sicily,
around Catania and in the hinterland around Ragusa.
In the U.S.A. Sicilian violet cauliflowers are only offered in
specialty gourmand vegetable stores and at certain times of year.
In the town of Vittoria, where my niece Marzia Greco-Grevina lives, the broccolo viola is called Cavolo Scuro and she cooks it into a
healthy pasta dish with a lot of flavors and with few ingredients.
The Sicilian violet cauliflower is purple in color, with lively violet
tones; when cooked the color changes to a light green. It is different from the white cauliflower; it is the
milder, has a nuttier flavor, sweeter taste and has a creamier consistency.
As with all cauliflowers, stems, trunks, and some of the tender outer
leaves are edible, moreover the Sicilian Violet Cauliflower is recognized as one of the healthiest vegetables
available, because it protects against many deceases since it contains a higher amount of flavonoids and
minerals than the white or purple cauliflowers.
Sicilian Violet Cauliflower does not combine easily with complicated
sauces and accordingly when it is used to make pasta is coupled with a little garlic, olive oil and a few
anchovy’s fillets in oil; as a side dish it is served boiled or steamed drizzled with olive oil and lemon
juice or sautéed with garlic and oil.
If the Sicilian Violet Cauliflower is not available
use the Romanesco
broccoli, called “broccoflower”, it is a green cauliflower or the more
familiar purple cauliflower.
For 4 to 6 persons
- 1 lb. fusilli pasta or any
short cut you prefer
- 1 cup of
- 2 tablespoons of extra
virgin olive oil
- 1 head of Sicilian Violet
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 anchovy fillets in oil,
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of extra
virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Peperoncino, hot red
pepper to serve on the side.
The Bread Crumbs
Over a medium heat, in a 10 inch skillet heat the breadcrumbs and stir until they are a
golden color. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and keep stirring until crumbs are light brown. Place in a
container and set aside
Rinse the broccoli with cold water. Do not soak. Separate the florets from the stalk; cut the
florets into small pieces keeping them the same size. Set on the side.
To prepare the core: cut off and discard 1 inch from the end. Trim, peel and cut the tender part of the stalk into
thin slices. Set on the side in a container with water.
In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water and 1 teaspoons of
When the water boils, drain the sliced stalk, place into the pot and cook for 5
Add the florets and continue cooking uncovered at a medium heat for an additional 6 minutes or
until they are fork tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to a bowl and set on the side.
Reserve the water which will be used to cook the pasta, add to it 2 teaspoons of salt and keep it at a low
Use a large skillet to heat 4 tablespoons of oil and sauté the crushed
garlic; after 2 minutes add the anchovies and with the help of a wooden spoon, quickly stir and mash until
they dissolve into the oil. Add the cauliflower and sauté for a few minutes; stir in a ladle of the hot water
and check for salt and pepper. Simmer at a low heat until pasta is ready.
Cook the pasta al dente, about 2 minutes less than manufacturer’s
When pasta is cooked, drain and reserve a cup of the pasta’s water.
Return the pasta into the same pot.
Keeping on a low flame, toss the cauliflower sauce into the pasta, turn it gently and mix in 2
tablespoons of toasted breadcrumbs. If you feel that the pasta is too dry, add a few tablespoons of the reserved
pasta water, as needed.
Serve immediately in warm pasta bowls, sprinkle with some toasted breadcrumbs, and drizzle a
little olive oil on the top. Offer on the side some peperoncino, red hot pepper.