Pasta with Sicilian Violet Cauliflower  

Pasta con Broccoli Siciliani & Acciughe 

Pasta cu Cavulu 


Sicilian Violet Cauliflower is a vegetable available all year in certain areas of Sicily, around Catania and in the hinterland around Ragusa

In the U.S.A. Sicilian violet cauliflowers are only offered in specialty gourmand vegetable stores and at certain times of year.  

In the town of Vittoria, where my niece Marzia Greco-Grevina lives, the broccolo viola is called Cavolo Scuro and she cooks it into a healthy pasta dish with a lot of flavors and with few ingredients.  

The Sicilian violet cauliflower is purple in color, with lively violet tones; when cooked the color changes to a light green. It is different from the white cauliflower; it is the milder, has a nuttier flavor, sweeter taste and has a creamier consistency. 

As with all cauliflowers, stems, trunks, and some of the tender outer leaves are edible, moreover the Sicilian Violet Cauliflower is recognized as one of the healthiest vegetables available, because it protects against many deceases since it contains a higher amount of flavonoids and minerals than the white or purple cauliflowers. 

Sicilian Violet Cauliflower does not combine easily with complicated sauces and accordingly when it is used to make pasta is coupled with a little garlic, olive oil and a few anchovy’s fillets in oil; as a side dish it is served boiled or steamed drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice or sautéed with garlic and oil. 

If the Sicilian Violet Cauliflower is not available use the Romanesco broccoli, called “broccoflower”, it is a green cauliflower or the more familiar purple cauliflower. 



 Cavolo- Sicilian Violet Cauliflower



For 4 to 6 persons




  • 1 lb. fusilli pasta or any short cut you prefer  
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs  
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil  
  • 1 head of Sicilian Violet Cauliflower   
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil   
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed  
  • 3 anchovy fillets in oil, chopped   
  • Salt and pepper   
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling  
  • Peperoncino, hot red pepper to serve on the side.  




The Bread Crumbs 

 Over a medium heat, in a 10 inch skillet heat the breadcrumbs and stir until they are a golden color. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and keep stirring until crumbs are light brown. Place in a container and set aside


The Broccoli 
 Rinse the broccoli with cold water. Do not soak. Separate the florets from the stalk; cut the florets into small pieces keeping them the same size.
 Set on the side.
To prepare the core: cut off and discard 1 inch from the end. Trim, peel and cut the tender part of the stalk into thin slices. Set on the side in a container with water. 


 The Sauce 

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water and 1 teaspoons of salt.

When the water boils, drain the sliced stalk, place into the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the florets and continue cooking uncovered at a medium heat for an additional 6 minutes or until they are fork tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to a bowl and set on the side. Reserve the water which will be used to cook the pasta, add to it 2 teaspoons of salt and keep it at a low heat.

Use a large skillet to heat 4 tablespoons of oil and sauté the crushed garlic; after 2 minutes add the anchovies and with the help of a wooden spoon, quickly stir and mash until they dissolve into the oil. Add the cauliflower and sauté for a few minutes; stir in a ladle of the hot water and check for salt and pepper. Simmer at a low heat until pasta is ready.



Pasta with Cavolo/ Sicilian Violet Cauliflower 


The Pasta

Cook the pasta al dente, about 2 minutes less than manufacturer’s recommended time.

When pasta is cooked, drain and reserve a cup of the pasta’s water. Return the pasta into the same pot.


The Assembly

Keeping on a low flame, toss the cauliflower sauce into the pasta, turn it gently and mix in 2 tablespoons of toasted breadcrumbs. If you feel that the pasta is too dry, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, as needed.

Serve immediately in warm pasta bowls, sprinkle with some toasted breadcrumbs, and drizzle a little olive oil on the top. Offer on the side some peperoncino, red hot pepper.