Pasta with cauliflower florets cooked in a sauce of white wine, anchovies, onions, pine nuts, and currants topped with breadcrumbs and a kiss of cinnamon.
Pasta with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Currants is just a sample of Sicilian cooking from Fabrizia Lanza‘s cookbook Coming Home to Sicily – Seasonal Harvest and Cooking from Case Vecchie. Authentic, seasonal Sicilian recipes are featured in this beautifully photographed book.
At a recent Melissa’s Produce luncheon, Fabrizia shared about her life at Case Vecchie on her family’s estate, Regaleali. She spoke passionately about her family’s recipes from seasonal harvests, the local foods they produce, and interesting programs/classes at The Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily, which teaches food preparation according to centuries old traditions.
Fabrizia’s seasonal fresh recipes are those she grew up with; she’s added some of her own creative touches to them as well.
She demonstrated one of those recipes — Taralli (Lemony Knotted Cookies).
I am pretty sure coffee was invented for these delightful bites.
But the recipe that intrigued me the most is the following, because of its aromas and varied textures.
Today’s Recipe: Pasta with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Currants
This recipe comes together quickly for a perfect weeknight meal.
I substituted bucatini pasta for the perciatelli. You could use spaghetti as well.
Even if you think you are not an anchovy lover, you will appreciate them here because once they’re mashed into the sauce, they completely melt into the background and provide the dish with rich and nutty undertones.
The cinnamon here, an influence from the Saracens who once conquered Sicily, gives this dish an exotic flavor, so don’t even tempted to leave it out.
Pasta with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Currants
- 2 small heads green cauliflower about 2 pounds, cut into I-inch florets
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons dried currants
- 1 tablespoon estratto or good-quality sun-dried tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- Fine sea salt and black pepper
- ¼ cup unseasoned dried breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 pound perciatelli
Cook the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and drain. Set aside.
2. Combine the olive oil and onion in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the anchovies and mash them into the onions, then stir in the pine nuts, currants, and the cauliflower. Stir the estratto into the wine until dissolved, then add to the cauliflower with I cup reserved cooking water and simmer until the cauliflower is falling apart (add a bit more cooking water if mixture gets too dry). Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Make the toasted breadcrumbs: Combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil in a small skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until well toasted. Stir in the parsley and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cook the perciatelli in a large pot of boiling well-salted water (for al dente it’s usually 7 minutes). Drain and gently toss with the cauliflower sauce and sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top.
Fabrizia hopes Coming Home to Sicily conveys not just a collection of recipes, but a way of life, not just a how-to, but an inspiration for using fresh, seasonal produce as a way of life.
Thanks Fabrizia for sharing your love of preserving a culture worth saving and inspiring me.
…and then, she paused for thought.