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Pasta with Cauliflower & Pistachios

Pasta with Cauliflower & Pistachios

This dish is a great way to use the anchovies and saffron that you bought, used once, and stored for that next special occasion meal.

serves 6 to 8

  • 1 whole head cauliflower, trimmed of leaves at the stem
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 good quality anchovy fillets
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1 12-ounce package pasta, such as bucatini, spaghetti or your favorite shape


  • 1/2 cup shredded Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, slivered

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the whole cauliflower and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from pot with a strainer, saving the water for the pasta. Plunge cauliflower into a bowl of ice water to cool quickly, then drain. Break into bite-size florets and chip the stem into small pieces.

Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add anchovies, stirring to break them up. Add sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. Pan should be bubbling. Add wine and reduce by half.

Add chicken stock, saffron, raisins, tomatoes and cauliflower. Season to taste with black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

While sauce simmers, add pasta to the pot of water you’ve saved and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. In a large bowl, toss sauce with drained pasta. Sauce may seem a little watery, but any extra will absorb almost instantly into the pasta. If mixture needs a little extra moisture, add some or all of the pasta cooking water.

Serve tossed pasta in bowls, topped with cheese, pistachios and fresh basil.

If there are any leftovers, add a can of chopped clams to moisten the pasta and bring out the salty, briny taste of the anchovies.