Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
SERVES 4 to 6
Broccoflower or green cauliflower is called broccoli in Palermo, Sicily, and what we know as broccoli is called sparaceddi. It is often combined with a thicker cut of spaghetti called bucatini or perciatelli and flavored with an unusual sauce combination of currants, anchovies, pine nuts, and saffron.
Some may be skeptical of the taste, but in this dish, one understands that the Sicilians need look no further than their own island for the ingredients and flavors that have for centuries defined their cuisine.
1 large onion, diced
3 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and minced
1 package (1/30 ounce or a pinch) powdered saffron dissolved in ¼ cup warm water
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup currants or diced raisins
4 to 6 quarts water
2 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt
1 head green cauliflower (1½ pounds), washed, trimmed, and cut into small florets
1 pound bucatini, perciatelli, or spaghetti
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Heat the olive oil in a deep, large sauté pan, then cook the onion, stirring, over medium heat until it softens. Stir in the anchovies and cook until they dissolve in the pan. Stir in the dissolved saffron. Stir in the pine nuts and currants or raisins and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
Bring the 4 to 6 quarts of water to a boil in a pasta pot with an insert. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and the cauliflower. Cook just until the stems are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the florets with a slotted spoon and transfer to the pan with the onion mixture.
Cook the bucatini in the same water according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water in a small bowl. Transfer the bucatini to the pan with the onion-and-cauliflower mixture and stir to combine the ingredients.
Stir the tomato paste into the reserved water and pour it into the pan with the onions and cauliflower. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon salt, quickly reheat the mixture until hot, and transfer it to a serving dish. Serve immediately.
Note: Instead of purchasing tomato paste in cans, buy it in tube form. This allows you to use the amount you need without having to open a can for just a small amount.