Serves: 4 - Time:
I’m not the world’s biggest pasta fan nor do I generally favour sweet fruity flavours with savoury yet I love this classic Sicilian dish. The contrasting agrodolce tastes (bittersweet is the literal translation), so popular in Sicilian cuisine, are less pronounced here-there is no bitterness- but the anchovies give the sauce a subtle savouriness which balances with the sweetness of the sultanas. Currants are usually added to this sauce but I hate currants and can’t be bothered to buy a whole packet when I always have a stash of sultanas in the cupboard. You can make the sauce in advance and simply cook the pasta and warm up the sauce just before you want to eat.
- 1 small cauliflower, about 450g, leaves discarded and florets separated
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- Decent pinch saffron strands soaked in one tablespoon of boiling water
- 5 anchovies in oil, drained
- 45g pine nuts
- 35g sultanas
- 190g jar slow-roasted cherry tomatoes in oil, drained
- About 320g spaghetti
- You will be cooking the pasta in the same saucepan as the cauliflower so choose a big saucepan. Fill it with water and bring to the boil. Add enough salt (about 3 teaspoons) to make it pleasantly briny. Add the cauliflower florets and bring to the boil. Cook for about 5-6 minutes until the florets are soft but not mushy. Turn off the heat, fish out the florets with a small sieve and place in a colander to drain off any excess water. Leave the saucepan on the side to cook the pasta later.
- While you are cooking the cauliflower you can start on the rest of the sauce. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and a pinch of salt. Fry over a gentle heat, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes until the onion is soft and golden. Add the soaked saffron strands and liquid, anchovies, pine nuts and sultanas. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower florets and stir well to combine the ingredients and gently break down the cauliflower. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
- Bring the cauliflower water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Cook according to packet instructions-usually about 10 minutes for al dente spaghetti. Scoop out a cupful of the pasta water before draining the pasta and returning it to the pan. Tip the cauliflower sauce into the spaghetti along with enough reserved pasta water to coat the spaghetti. Toss well and serve immediately.