It is a well-known fact that pasta and tomatoes have a natural affinity for one another. There are countless recipes for pasta with cooked or uncooked tomato sauces, the most common being pasta with a simple marinara sauce. This recipe takes the basic idea one step further, adding in tender cauliflower and golden onions for extra flavor and texture. Anchovies, ground cloves and cinnamon add haunting aromas while crushed red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar add punch. A topping of toasted pine nuts makes this dish truly special. This is one of those dishes that makes such an easy weeknight meal, it's almost ridiculous. Try adding capers and currants for a more Sicilian-style dish.
Pasta with Spiced Cauliflower
Rapini with Garlic
Homemade Bread
Glasses of Italian Red Wine


1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
a generous pinch each of ground cloves, ground cinnamon and crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 pound penne, ziti or other stubby pasta
a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Cooking Instructions

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Drop in the cauliflower and cook for one minute. Scoop the cauliflower out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander to drain. Keep the water boiling as you prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the drained cauliflower, onions, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and cauliflower are browned (5 to 7 minutes.) Add the garlic, anchovies, spices, parsley and red wine vinegar and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until tender yet firm to the bite (al dente.) Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Place the skillet back over medium heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, scraping up any brown glaze from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes or until the cauliflower is crisp-tender. Add the pasta and toss to blend. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. If it seems a little dry, add more pasta cooking water until you achieve a good consistency. Transfer to a pre-warmed bowl, drizzle with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Makes 4 to 6 servings



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elliemay's blog

Anchovies come in several forms. Salt-packed anchovies reputedly have a better flavor but I usually can only find them sold in unnecessarily huge amounts so I always opt for oil-packed anchovies instead. You can find them in convenient 2-ounce tins and they are much easier to prepare (simply rinse before using.) Anchovy paste, while convenient, is typically made from the leftovers of the anchovy production plant making it less than desirable. After opening, transfer any unused anchovies to an airtight container, cover with olive oil, and refrigerate for up to several months.

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