CAULIFLOWER BAKED ALLA SICILIANA

For 4 portions

 

1 medium size cauliflower

salt

 

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

½  cup of breadcrumbs

1/4  cup of raisins

1/4 cup of pine nuts or safflower seeds

½ tsp crushed peperoncini or 1/2 hot red chilli pepper, diced

1 tbs oregano, rosemary and thyme

salt and pepper 

2 tbs chopped Italian parsley

It seems to be a very typical manner for the southern Italy that fried breadcrumbs are added to the pasta dishes in place of parmigiano cheese. Pangritata, for that is its name, is called otherwise the poor man’s parmesan.  Once you cross the line south of Rome, one can see the difference between the rich North and poor South of Italy. No wonder, not many families could afford the parmigiano. Ingenious as they are, poor people invented a way to add taste and texture to the dishes with the use of the pangritata.

And it is not the regular bread crumbs you would fry the cauliflower with ( BTW delicious on its own) but the pangritata absorbs the flavors from the ingredients it is fried with: rosemary, garlic, anchovies or oilves. It all can be added to the breadcrumbs to lift the taste of the pasta or other dishes. Well, many years ago, a friend of mine, who had spent a while on Sicily, taught me how to cook pasta sarde alla siciliana, with sardines with pangritata with raisins, garlic, pinoli and hot pepper. I have loved the dish ever since. And so I baked the whole cauliflower with those tastes. How Sicilian!

 

Clean the cauliflower, remove the tough, outer leaves and leave the young leaves close to the flower. Cook the cauliflower al. dente in salted water or steam it. Drain. While the cauliflower is cooking heat the oilive oil in the frying pan, add the garlic, herbs and the breadcrumbs and fry until the breadcrumbs are golden. Add to the breadcumbs the soaked and drained raisins, sufflower seeds and hot pepper. Season the pangritata with salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower in a baking dish, pour over some oilve oil. Place the pangritata over the cauliflower. Bake in the oven in 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes until both, cauliflower and pangritata are golden brown.

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