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Sicilian Pasta with Cauliflower Recipe

Sicilian Pasta with Cauliflower, a delightful combination of flavors, textures and aromas bringing together the sweetness of raisins, crunch of breadcrumbs and pine nuts and the golden color of saffron. A wonderful feast for the palate in only 30 minutes!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sicilian-Italian
Keyword Sicilian pasta with cauliflower, pasta with cauliflower, raisins and pine nuts
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 404kcal


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup raisins or currants
  • 1 envelope saffron
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2-3 canned anchovy filets or anchovy paste (optional)
  • 225 grams (1/2 lb) gemelli pasta or other short pasta such as penne rigate, rigatoni, fusilli
  • Pecorino cheese for serving


  • Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, separate cauliflower into bite size florets.  When the water comes to a boil, add salt and cook cauliflower until tender, 6-8 minutes.  Drain with a slotted spoon, place in a bowl and set aside.  Reserve the water to boil the pasta.

  • Soak raisins by placing in a bowl and covering with warm water.  Dissolve saffron in a bowl with 2-3 tbsp warm water. Coarsely chop the pine nuts, or leave whole if desired.

  • Toast breadcrumbs in a small pan with a bit of olive oil until lightly browned and crisp, 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Bring the pot of water to a boil once again. Cook gemelli pasta, or pasta of your choice, until al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet.  Sauté onions until soft, then add garlic and anchovy filets or anchovy paste and red pepper flakes (optional).
  • Add raisins, pine nuts, saffron water and the cooked cauliflower. Stir all ingredients together and break up the cauliflower into small pieces with a wooden spoon.   
  • When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the skillet with the cauliflower mixture.  Mix together adding pasta water as needed to create a thick sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve hot topped with crispy breadcrumbs and grated Pecorino cheese.


In Sicily, bucatini pasta is typically used to make this recipe.  I prefer a shorter pasta that the sauce can cling to such as gemelli (shown), penne rigate, rigatoni or cavatappi.
Green cauliflower may be substituted for the typical white variety.
I enjoy chunks of cauliflower in my pasta however,if you prefer a sauce with a smoother, creamier consistency cook the cauliflower for a few minutes longer in the first step.
Please note that the nutritional information provided is approximate and may vary according to exact portion size.


Calories: 404kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 699mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 71.5mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2.2mg