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  • Recipe Room  »  Sicilian cauliflower pasta



    • a pinch of saffron strands
    • 1 small-medium cauliflower, chopped into small florets
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
    • a pinch of crushed dried chilli
    • 50g raisins
    • 50g pine nuts
    • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 400g wholewheat mafalda corta (pasta)
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 2 rounded tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
    • freshly grated vegetarian Parmesan, to serve
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Sicilian cauliflower pasta

    Sicily was ruled by Arabs in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and their culinary legacy lives on in the use of ingredients like saffron, raisins, and pine nuts in the island’s cooking. Here all three are combined with the humble cauliflower to create a memorable pasta dish.


    Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 4 minutes until tender. Scoop the cauliflower out of the pan, drain and set aside, and reserve the water. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat until tender but not coloured.

    Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute. Add the raisins and pine nuts to the pan and continue to cook until the pine nuts are toasted and lightly golden.

    Add the cauliflower, steeped saffron, sun-dried tomato paste and bay leaf to the pan along with 150ml of the cauliflower cooking water. Season and cook over a low-medium heat for about 5 minutes, lightly mashing the cauliflower with the back of a wooden spoon to make a sauce and adding more water if necessary if it starts to look dry.

    Meanwhile cook the mafalda corta in the cauliflower water according to the packet instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cupful of the water and tip the pasta into the sauté pan with the cauliflower sauce. Add the lemon juice, chopped parsley and stir to combine. Add some of the reserved water if needed.

    Serve with lots of freshly grated vegetarian Parmesan.

    Meat Free Monday Cookbook by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney, edited by Annie Rigg, published by Kyle Books, RRP $35 click to buy.

    Tips and Tricks

    • Hard cheeses store excellently in the freezer. Grate fully and keep in a sealed plastic bag – cheese can be used in cooking straight from frozen.

    • Keep parsley in a glass of water and wrapped in a plastic bag in your fridge. Parsley should last a week or so stored in this way. Remember to change the water regularly to prevent mould and decay.

    • Growing your own parsley can also be one of the most efficient, cost effective and waste-avoiding ways to supply your kitchen with fresh herbs. Simply grow it in your garden or on your windowsill and cut off what you need as you go.

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