A workers' cooperative growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley

Hail To The Cauli’…

Aaah… the poor cauliflower, destined to spend its days smothered with cheese sauce or drying up on a buffet table waiting to be dipped in Thousand Island dressing… No more! Having used them since the 1490s (a hundred years before they reached England) the Italians understand how to reveal the cauli’s true beauty, as this bold but simple recipe demonstrates. The combination of sweet and salty helps bring out its more subtle flavour (as cheese sauce also attempts to do). Traditionally using anchovies I have substituted capers for a vegan, but similarly salty, kick. Bucatini is a long, hollow-tube pasta which is great al dente and, apparently, at emphasising subtle flavours. Try and get hold of it if you can, but spaghetti will substitute fine. Enjoy!

Bucatini Al Cavolfiore

Bucatini with Cauliflower and Raisins (serves 4)


1 small cauliflower

Dash of salt

1 onion, thinly sliced

½ cup (3.5 fl oz / 100 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of capers (coarsely chopped or crushed up a bit)

3 tablespoons seedless white raisins

3 tablespoons pine nuts

¼ teaspoon saffron, in 3 tablespoons hot water

1 lb (500g) bucatini pasta

Ground black pepper

How to put it all together:

Boil the cauliflower whole in a large pot of salted water until tender. Remove the cauliflower and drain over the pan, to keep the water. Divide into small florets and put aside. Bring the pan back to a boil and add the pasta. Meanwhile, sauté the onion for a minute or two in the oil in a large frying pan. Add the capers, raisins, pine nuts and saffron. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and continue cooking over a very low heat, stirring occasionally. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the cauliflower mixture. Combine carefully (not breaking up the florets too much), then transfer to a heated serving dish. Ground black pepper to season and serve hot. Traditionally a dry white wine is recommended with this dish.

[Variation – transfer the pasta mix to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with ½ cup pecorino cheese, bake in oven at gas mark 6 (400F, 200C) or until golden brown.]
Categories:  Recipes

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