I am always looking for new ways with pasta as it is something we eat at least once a week. I love all pasta but it is really nice to come across a dish (thanks Rick Stein) that is true to its origins and has that real authentic feel (and taste) to it. The sweet, earthy and salty combination of the cauliflower, anchovies and currants gave it the perfect balance of flavours and the toasted pine nuts gave it the perfect texture. So too did the gorgeous toasted breadcrumbs that stuck to every silky strand of spaghetti, bulking up the dish and adding another level of flavour. This was beautiful.
Prep time: 2o Minutes Cooking time: 30 Minutes $$ Medium Budget
500gm of spaghetti, cooked according to packet instructions (about 11 minutes for al dente`)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
350gm of cauliflower, cut into florets
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small brown onion, finely diced
A pinch of saffron threads
1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
2 pieces of day old bread, crusts removed (any will do but I used light rye)
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup of currants
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Sea salt and cracked pepper
2 tbs of chopped flat leaf parsley
Fresh parmesan and lemon wedges to serve
Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and cover with water. Season with a little salt and bring to the boil for about 6-8 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife. Drain, reserving the cauliflower water.
Cut the bread into chunks and place in a small food processor. Blitz until you have coarse breadcrumbs. Heat a frypan and add half of the oil. Fry the crumbs for around 8-10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
Using the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the onion until soft before adding the garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes. Continue to cook until the anchovies have broken down and then add the cauliflower, saffron, lemon juice and the cauliflower water. Simmer for about 5-6 minutes and then use a potato masher to gently mash the cauliflower so that it resembles a thick but slightly chunky sauce. Add the pine nuts and currants to the sauce.
Add a little more cauliflower water if the sauce is too thick and once you have drained the pasta, add 2/3rds of the breadcrumbs and 1/2 of the parsley to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and place the spaghetti to the pan and then toss with a pair of tongs until well combined. I like to add another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at this point, just to bind it altogether.
Divide the pasta between 4 serving bowls and sprinkle over the remaining breadcrumbs and parsley. Top with a smattering of freshly grated parmesan and serve with lemon wedges.