Cauliflower grows abundantly in Sicily, especially in the countryside around Palermo (right now, it's also abundant locally). Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family. It is comprised of bunches of florets crowned at the base by green leaves. Although it looks very elegant, it has a very bland taste. This has been a challenge for both chefs and housewives. It has moved them to create new dishes in which the rich appearance of the cauliflower could be associated with the taste of local products. One such dish is this pasta with cauliflower sauce, which is a distinctive dish from Palermo. We call it “arriminati,” meaning literally mixed. However, for us the word is "Palermitani," which means mixed with love and patience. In fact the arriminatura, or the mixing, is the most important part of this preparation; a wooden spoon is required and the stirring must be slow and steady. When the pasta is combined with cauliflower, saffron, onions, toasted pine nuts and raisins, the scent and the taste is overwhelming!
- 3/4 cup Raisins
- 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
- 1 large head Cauliflower
- 1 large Spanish Onion
- To taste: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Tomato Puree
- 1 envelope Saffron
- 1 pound Mafaldine Pasta
- 1 cup Toasted Breadcrumbs
- To taste: Salt
- To Taste: Fresh ground Black Pepper
- Soak the raisins in warm water for 5 minutes. Toast the pine nuts in a nonstick frying pan.
- Remove raisins from water and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
- Clean the cauliflower and cut it into florets. Boil a pot of salted water. Dip the cauliflower florets and cook 8-10 minutes.
- Thinly slice and chop the onion. Sautè in extra virgin olive oil over low heat til they become translucent and soften. Add the pine nuts and raisins. Sautè lightly, then add the tomato puree and saffron. Dilute with a few tablespoons of the water in which the cauliflower cooked.
- When the cauliflower is cooked, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and add it to the pan of sauce. Keep the cauliflower water and add the mafaldine pasta to it.
- When the pasta is cooked (follow the package direction minus 2 minutes), drain and pour into the pan of sauce. Cook quickly over high heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Season to taste, top with toasted breadcrumbs and serve.