By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
I seem to be on a a strong cauliflower kick these cold days here in Florence. Maybe that is because this delicious vegetable holds such powerful memories for me.
My Sicilian grandma used to make delicious pasta coi broccoli arriminati— a very easy to make pasta dish. "Broccoli” here is not what you think of as broccoli in America—it is Sicilian slang for cauliflower. In this same dialect, arriminati means "stirred."
This recipe has a very Middle Eastern flavor because of the raisins, saffron, and pinenuts. It is an example of the "pollination" between traditional Italian cooking and Middle Eastern cooking brought by saraceni during the ancient Arabic invasions of Sicily.
Today we use the term “fusion” to refer to the mix of flavors and cooking from different countries. So with that in mind, this is a very ancient fusion, and it is so good you’ll fall in love with this recipe! The crunchy element is fried breadcrumbs—in Sicily they call it the muddica, the Parmesan of the poor, but I always find this dish to be so rich!
Pasta coi Broccoli Arriminati
12 oz (350 grams) bucatini pasta
1 pound of cauliflower
4 anchovy fillets in oil
2 T (30 grams) pinenuts
2 T (30 grams) raisins
A pinch of saffron
4 T toasted breadcrumbs
Clove of garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cut cauliflower into florets and boil until slightly tender. Drain, stir (arriminate) and mash the cauliflower until it is almost pureed.
Sauté the mashed cauliflower with garlic, anchovies, raisins and pinenuts. Add pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until cooked al dente.
In another pan, toast the grated breadcrumbs with oil and pepper.
Drain the pasta, but add a few tablespoons of cooking water to the cauliflower. Add saffron and stir well to mix the ingredients.
Serve immediately with the fried breadcrumbs on top.