Orecchiette with cauliflower

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

  • About

In Southern Italy, even the pasta has ears. Cauliflower tossed with olives, strengthened with chilli and linked with the ubiquitous tomato is a good match for the ear-shaped orecchiette. The much-maligned broccoli is also magnificent done in this manner. When cooking Sicilian or Sardinian pasta dishes that require cheese, try using grated pecorino at the table rather than the more northern Parmigiano, for the flavour of the deep south.


  • 500 g (1 lb) cauliflower
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced into rings
  • 300 g (11 oz) ripe or canned tomatoes
  • 500 g (1 lb) orecchiette
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • ½ cup mild black olives, stoned and sliced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano or pecorino


Cut cauliflower into small tree-like florets and cook in a little salted, boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frypan, add onion and cook until soft but still pale, Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook very gently for 10 minutes.

Cook pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente.

Heat remaining olive oil in a small frypan, add anchovies and chilli, and cook for 2 minutes. Add to sauce with olives and parsley, and stir gently, Drain pasta well, tip into a warmed serving bowl and mix with sauce, Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.