Pasta chi Vruoccoli Arriminati (Sicilian Pasta With Cauliflo

4 servings


45 minutes

total time


For the Toasted Breadcrumbs:

8 ounces (225g) bread, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces (see note)

1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

For the Pasta:

Kosher salt

1 small head (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds; 700 to 800g) cauliflower, preferably green Romanesco, cut into 1- to 2-inch florets

1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 small (4-ounce; 115g) yellow onion, finely chopped

5 anchovy fillets (15g)

2 tablespoons (30g) golden raisins

2 tablespoons (30g) pine nuts, lightly toasted

Pinch saffron threads

Pinch fennel pollen (optional)

12 ounces (340g) short, tubular dried pasta such as sedani or rigatoni, or long pasta such as bucatini

1/2 cup (60g) toasted breadcrumbs, divided


For the Toasted Breadcrumbs : If using fresh or lightly stale bread, adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). (If using fully stale and dried bread, skip baking step.) Arrange bread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake until completely dried, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Transfer bread to food processor bowl (set aside but don't clean rimmed baking sheet), and pulse until reduced to small crumbs, taking care not to over-process into a fine powder, 8 to 10 pulses.

Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil in a large, deep skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring and tossing occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Transfer toasted breadcrumbs to reserved rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer, and set aside to cool to room temperature; wipe out skillet. Once cool, set aside 1/2 cup (50g) toasted breadcrumbs for the pasta, and transfer remaining crumbs to an airtight container for future use; the extra breadcrumbs can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

For the Pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. While water comes to a boil, stir together 1 tablespoon (15ml) water and saffron in a small bowl; set aside. Add cauliflower and cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, until floret pieces are just tender and offer very little resistance when poked with a paring knife at thickest part of stem end, about 6 minutes. Using a spider skimmer, fine-mesh strainer, or slotted spoon, drain cauliflower while keeping boiling water in the pot; transfer cauliflower to a bowl or plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup (60ml) oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Add anchovies and cook, stirring and breaking up anchovies occasionally with a wooden spoon, until anchovies have dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Add cauliflower to skillet along with 1/2 cup (120ml) reserved cooking water, raisins, pine nuts, fennel pollen (if using), and saffron water. Cook over medium, stirring often and breaking up cauliflower into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until raisins soften and plump and cooking water reduces and glazes cauliflower, 4 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in the reserved pot of boiling water used for cooking the cauliflower until pasta is just shy of al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directs). Using a spider skimmer (or tongs if cooking bucatini), transfer pasta to cauliflower mixer in skillet , along with 1/2 cup (118ml) pasta cooking water. Alternatively, drain pasta using a colander or fine-mesh strainer, making sure to reserve at least 1 cup (237ml) pasta cooking water.

Increase heat to high and cook, stirring and tossing rapidly, until pasta is al dente and a creamy looking sauce forms and clings to pasta, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil and toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking water in 1/4-cup (60ml) increments as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Remove from heat, add half of the breadcrumbs (1/4 cup; 30g), and toss to combine. Pasta should be well-coated but not swimming in sauce (the sauce will continue to tighten up in the time it takes to plate and serve). Adjust sauce consistency as needed with more pasta water if it seems too dry. Divide pasta between individual serving bowls, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and serve right away.


Serving Size

Serves 4


854 kcal

Total Fat

33 g

Saturated Fat

5 g

Unsaturated Fat

0 g

Trans Fat



3 mg


815 mg

Total Carbohydrate

119 g

Dietary Fiber

10 g

Total Sugars

16 g


24 g

4 servings


45 minutes

total time
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