I usually bulk up our pasta dishes with a vegetable and, more often than not, that vegetable is cauliflower. It’s a great vessel for any sauce and blends right into the flavor or texture of the pasta. In fact, in some dishes like my baked ziti (so sorry for the gross, ancient pictures – I swear I’m going to make this again as soon as I have an oven – ah, my eyeballs!), you can’t even tell it’s there.
I know I wasn’t the first person to figure this out; or probably even the eighteen billion and sixth. I’m just saying it’s a neat thing to do.Cauliflower is a core part of this traditional Sicilian dish, named, not surprisingly, Pasta con Cavofiore. The flavors are unusually exotic for Italian cuisine: rich saffron, complex anchovy, sweet currant and refreshing cauliflower. There’s no heavy sauce here; just onion, garlic, olive oil, and a whisper of Parmesan. It’s not traditional but I really prefer this with the flavor of whole wheat pasta.
If you can’t find anchovies, you can substitute a tablespoonful or so of anchovy paste. Don’t leave it out if you can avoid it. Even though it will smell fishy when you first open the tin and add them to the pan, they dissolve away into nothing but an extra deep layer of flavor. I know how nerdy-lame that sounds and am embarrassed that I typed it but just add the darn anchovy unless you’re vegetarian or allergic.
- 1/4 c currants
- 1/4 c warm water
- 1 small pinch of saffron threads
- 1 tablespoons plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 c breadcrumbs
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 6 oz whole wheat pasta
- Salt to taste
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper, or more to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
In a small bowl, cover the currants with warm water and sprinkle with saffron. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and saute, stirring, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can mix breadcrumbs with oil and toast under the broiler for 2-4 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Break the cauliflower into florets and boil until just tender, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove cauliflower to a plate.
Add pasta to the cauliflower water and cook according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or brasier over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add anchovies and cook, stirring, until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and red pepper and saute, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic saute until fragrant, another minute.
Add pasta and cauliflower to the pan, stir to combine. Stir in currants, saffron soaking liquid and cheese.
Top with toasted breadcrumbs and parsley.
Calories 291 / Total Fat 8.2g / Saturated Fat 1.9g / Trans Fat 0.0g / Cholesterol 8mg / Sodium 291mg / Potassium 334mg / Total Carbohydrates 45.2g / Dietary Fiber 7.8g / Sugars 5.7g / Protein 11.6g
Weight Watchers Points: 6 / PointsPlus: 7