Tender cauliflower meets umami-rich anchovies and fruity olive oil in this easy pasta recipe from The Best of Bugialli (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1994) by Giuliano Bugialli.


Orecchiette with Cauliflower Orecchiette with Cauliflower
Briny anchovies and high-quality olive oil are all you need to make the flavorful sauce for this easy pasta dish.
Yield: serves 4
Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes


  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2¼ lb.), leaves removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 whole oil-cured anchovy fillets, drained (or substitute 5 salt-packed whole anchovies, boned and rinsed)
  • 1 lb. dried orecchiette
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. In a large bowl, add the cauliflower and enough cold water to keep it fully submerged. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, discarding the stems. Add the cauliflower and garlic to the pot, and cook until tender, 3–4 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking water and discarding the garlic.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, turn off the heat, add the anchovies, and mash the fillets with a fork. Meanwhile, bring reserved cooking water back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 9–12 minutes; drain.
  4. Transfer the pasta to the pot with anchovy oil. Heat over medium, stirring, then add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Add chile flakes and parsley; serve.