Cauliflower Pasta With Anchovies and Bread Crumbs (Pasta alla Paolina con cavolfiore) By Anna Francese Gass The New York Times.

This simple pasta, named Pasta alla Paolina con cavolfiore, from Palermo, Italy, layers flavor upon flavor: It begins with oil-packed anchovies melted in a hot pan, then combines them with tomato sauce and a blend of cinnamon and cloves, pantry staples in Sicilian cuisine. It’s finished with a crunchy, almond-studded bread crumb mixture that comes together while the pasta cooks. The dish was created centuries ago in a Sicilian monastery, by one of the friars of the order founded by San Francesco di Paola. This popular variation adds cauliflower. While this dish traditionally includes anchovies, capers can be substituted.


  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup unsalted almonds, finely chopped
  • 4 slices white sandwich bread, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 5 parsley sprigs, stems and leaves separated and finely chopped
  • ½ medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen riced cauliflower or 12 ounces fresh riced cauliflower (about 3½ cups)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato purée or passata


  1. Step 1: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until about 1 minute shy of al dente. Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  1. Step 2: While the water is coming to a boil, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet on low. Add the finely chopped almonds and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  1. Step 3: Add the bread, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Stir continually for 5 minutes until the bread is toasted. (Be careful to keep everything moving so the nuts do not burn.) Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley leaves. Transfer the mixture to a plate; thoroughly wipe out the skillet.
  1. Step 4: Place the skillet back on the stove and heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil on medium. Add the onion, garlic and minced parsley stems and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, just until the garlic is soft and onion is translucent. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the anchovies (if using), cinnamon and cloves. Press the anchovies into the pan while stirring until they melt.
  1. Step 5: Mix the tomato paste with ½ cup of boiling pasta water and add it to the skillet. Add the riced cauliflower and mix to combine, breaking up any large, frozen pieces with the back of your spoon.
  1. Step 6: Once the cauliflower begins to soften, stir in the tomato purée. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 additional minutes, until thickened.
  1. Step 7: Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and then the drained pasta, tossing continuously to coat. Add more pasta water if needed to fully coat the pasta.
  1. Step 8: Empty the skillet into a large serving dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta and top with a final drizzle of oil.
recipes/cauliflower_pasta.txt · Last modified: 2023/06/04 13:53 by mcf
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