Orrechiette with cauliflower

This is another sauce in the olive oil and garlic family. It’s similar to a dish made with broccoli rabe, which is sort of a wild cousin to broccoli, but cauliflower is a bit denser and harder to overcook. In fact, it’s even better when it’s a bit caramelized. 

Though orrechiette (little ears) is the traditional pasta, this sauce also works on a tubular pasta such penne.

What you need

  • cauliflower, one head

  • olive oil

  • garlic

  • anchovy

  • capers

  • breadcrumbs, toasted

  • scallions (optional)

  • crushed red pepper (optional)

Orrechiette with cauliflower
Orrechiette with cauliflower

How you make it

  • Coat the bottom of a pan with a generous amount of olive oil.
  • Add in one or two chopped cloves of garlic along with some chopped anchovy. How much anchovy? More or less according to taste—at least half a filet, maybe as many as three. Believe me, anchovy and cauliflower is a match made in heaven, so you really can’t overdo it.
  • Add a pinch of oregano and black pepper.
  • Simmer for a minute or so—just until the anchovy starts to dissolve.
  • Add in a head of cauliflower—you can chop it or break it apart with your hands.
  • Sauté over high heat—let the cauliflower get a bit brown.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in a small spoonful of rinsed capers and maybe some chopped scallions.
  • Meanwhile, cook the orrechiette in a pot of salted water. Be careful not to overcook it.
  • When the pasta is still a bit firm, drain and transfer to the saucepan, adding a bit of the cooking water.
  • Stir and simmer for another minute or so, then top with the toasted breadcrumbs and some crushed red pepper, as desired. A bit of chopped parsley is also good, if you have it.

I usually serve this along with some olives, fontina cheese, and tiny pickles. It’s also exceptionally good with some garlic bread.

Buon appetito!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *