Sicilian-Style Spaghetti

You’ll see a lot of pasta on this blog – I love it and refuse to stay away. For many people, pasta congers images of mushy fettuccine drenched in white cream sauce or spaghetti smothered with Prego, but the Cooking After Five kitchen refuses to eat either of these. If my pasta has red sauce, it was made in my own stock pot, or I’ll use Bertoli’s organic sauce, one of the few canned marinara sauces I truly enjoy.

This is a dish with a fair amount of preparation. When the time comes to toss everything together, your counter will be filled with bowls of parsley, bread crumbs, pine nuts, and olive oil, but preparing these elements while the cauliflower is roasting will give you plenty of time to clean up before finishing the recipe. 20 minutes before the cauliflower finishes, begin boiling the water. This way the spaghetti will be ready at the same time as the cauliflower.

With my butternut squash “food phase” coming to an end after last year’s holiday season, I retired many of my new favorite recipes to their appropriate binders and moved on to new obsessions. My latest phase: cauliflower. I’ve made soup, cauliflower steaks (recipes coming), and eaten florets like popcorn after roasting them in the oven.

Tyler Florence’s Sicilian Spaghetti is one of my favorite dishes from my search for the most delicious ways to use cauliflower. I had to double the amount of cauliflower from one head to two (one just isn’t enough, maybe because I eat too many florets before they reach the serving bowl?).

I also made several other minor changes to the cooking process, but nothing that changes the essential flavors of the dish. I used Itailan-style bread crumbs instead of Panko, and substituted anchovy paste for filets - both ingredients I already had.

Sicilian-Style Spaghetti

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

2 heads cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. anchovy paste

½ cup toasted pine nuts

¾ panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or Italian-style bread crumbs

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Juice of ½ a lemon

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the cauliflower, toss broken florets on a large roasting pan with ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes, until florets are golden brown and tender. Toss florets halfway through.

In a small saucepan, heat ¾ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovy paste and break apart with a spoon. Continue cooking on low heat for five minutes more, until olive oil is infused. Transfer to a glass bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, toast the bread crumbs for several minutes over medium heat until golden brown, set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, cook spaghetti for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and place it back into the cooking pot. Add cauliflower, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss to combine, adding additional olive oil if the pasta is too dry.

To serve, arrange pasta on individual plates and toss evenly with bread crumbs and pine nuts. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.