Sicily was ruled by Arabs in the 10th and 11th 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. Taken from the award-winning Meat Free Monday Cookbook.
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
1 bay leaf
400g wholewheat mafalda corta
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 rounded tbsp freshly chopped flatleaf parsley
Freshly grated vegetarian Parmesan, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of saffron threads
1 small-medium cauliflower, chopped into small florets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
A pinch of crushed dried chilli
50g pine nuts
1. Soak the saffron threads in 2 tbsp boiling water and set aside.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Meanwhile cook the malfalda 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.
What are you cooking tonight?