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Pasta con Cavolfiore |Traditional Sicilian Pasta with Cauliflower and Anchovies

Updated on September 19, 2014

Pasta con Cavolfiore, a Montalbano Favourite from Sicily

I saw this dish, pasta with cauliflower, in an episode of Inspector Montalbano and it went by so fast I hardly had time to take it in. Fortunately it's so simple to put together that my first attempt was enthusiastically received by my family.

I've never used cauliflower like this before but I certainly will be in future.

Montalbano prepared his lunch with sparaceddu, but I didn't have any of this green cauliflower so I just used the ordinary white variety. In Sicily, cauliflower seems to also be broccoli, but whatever you want to call the vegetables is neither here nor there. This pasta dish is delish.

First, break up the cauliflower

Ingredients - This is what I used

  1. A large cauliflower broken into small florets
  2. A large onion, sliced
  3. 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  4. A jar of anchovies in oil, drained and chopped. There were 4 in my jar.
  5. Bunch of fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley from my garden, chopped semi-fine
  6. Freshly ground black pepper
  7. A packet of rigatoni

Getting ready to serve - Almost there!

Method - This is what I did

  1. I first washed the cauliflower and simmered it in a large pot of water for about 5 minutes. My main concern was making sure that it stayed firm and didn't get mushy.
  2. Then I removed the cauliflower and broke it up into florets. I kept the water to cook the pasta. I put the cauliflower water back on to boil and got the rigatoni ready to cook
  3. The onion and garlic were tossed in a pan over medium heat in about a tablespoon of oil until golden.
  4. I tipped the anchovies straight from the jar into the pan and mashed them in with a wooden spoon.
  5. By this time the water in the pot was boiling and I added the pasta
  6. It was time to add the florets to the pan of anchovies and garlic! I mixed them through, and turned off the heat

  1. When the rigatoni was al dente, I drained it (keeping a little bit of the water just in case)
  2. I put the pasta into a warmed serving bowl and poured the hot cauliflower sauce over it, tossing as I did so.
  3. This is when I stirred the parsley through and seasoned it all with the black pepper
  4. The sauce was a little dry so I added some of the water I had retained from the pasta pot

Chopped Parsley

How about you?

Do you use cauliflower very often?

See results
Inspector Montalbano
Inspector Montalbano

I love Inspector Montalbano

Inspector Montalbano

I have a passion for a handful of fictional detectives. Salvo Montalbano is one of them.I love the Sicilian food too.

Sicilian Arancini, inspired by Montalbano
As an avid fan of Inspector Montalbano, the fictional detective created by Andrea Camilleri, I'm intrigued, and fascinated, by the Sicilian dishes ever prese...

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

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    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      This sound so good! And I happen to have a cauliflower too.

    • mariacarbonara profile image


      5 years ago

      I can't stand anchovies but I will cook with them for other people

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I enjoy cauliflower raw in salads or to dip, but I've rarely cooked it. I wonder what this recipe would be like without the anchovies since I am a vegetarian.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I enjoy cauliflower raw in salads or to dip, but I've rarely cooked it. I wonder what this recipe would be like without the anchovies since I am a vegetarian.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I enjoy cauliflower raw in salads or to dip, but I've rarely cooked it. I wonder what this recipe would be like without the anchovies since I am a vegetarian.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      How can you buy a jar of anchovies with only four anchovies in it? I buy the big fat jar with the wire spring clasp lid from my local Italian deli. This recipe looks Yum!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      6 years ago

      Hubby doesn't like anchovies but I do. Maybe I can make a half and half. No - he can just pick them out same as he does with mushrooms.

    • emmajowebster profile image


      7 years ago

      sounds wonderful! i'm allergic to fish so do you think if i used capers it would work as a substitute?

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      7 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Pasta and cauliflowers sounds like a nice mix. This Inspector Montalbano sure has better food taste than my favorite detective (Erlendur Sveinsson staple food is usually microwaved mutton or boiled haddock).

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @CHalloran LM: I think pancetta would be good too if you don't care for anchovies. mmmmmm think of the pancetta in spaghetti carbonara!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I need to find more ways to get cauliflower in my diet. It is a healthy food.

    • CHalloran LM profile image

      CHalloran LM 

      7 years ago

      I love cauliflower, it is one of my most favorite vegetables. I want to try this recipe although I am not so sure about the anchovies part. Would it taste good without it?

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Love cauliflowers, this recipe is so well presented, will give it a try ...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My husband is Italian, and also the cook in our house. Thank goodness for that :) We have white pasta with Rapini, which has a bitter taste to it and took me some time get used to. Give it a try sometime.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! Your recipe sound very different and really tasty. I don't really enjoy plain steamed cauliflower, but it's amazing how versatile it can be when mixed with other ingredients.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Yum! Must make some!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      Maybe this will get the kids to eat cauliflower! Great lens.


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