Pasta with Cauliflower, Pancetta and Anchovies

Another cold and snowy week here in Pennsylvania! But alas, I know spring is around the corner because my gardening catalogs have begun to arrive – wohoo!  New tomato varieties to pick from, new climbing roses to plant!! I can feel the thaw in the air! And what better time to look at all those wonderful catalogs than over a plate of warm pasta, a glass of hearty red?  I haven’t made this dish for quite awhile and with a beautiful crunchy head of cauliflower in the refrigerator, thought it would be the perfect simple dish for dinner.  Don’t let the anchovies scare you away – they melt into the sauce and provide a wonderful backdrop to the creamy cauliflower. So start thinking spring! It is almost here!!

Pasta with Cauliflower, Pancetta and Anchovies


3 tablespoons olive oil

3 ounces of pancetta, diced

4 oil-packed anchovies, diced (about 2 tablespoons)

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato concentrate (paste)

1 head of cauliflower, stems removed, florets diced

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound of spaghetti

Chopped fresh parsley, to taste


1 pot to cook spaghetti

1 large saute pan, to hold sauce and pasta


1.  Heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add pancetta and saute until golden brown and fat is rendered.

2. Add the diced anchovies and stir. Saute until dissolved.

3. Add the minced garlic and tomato concentrate. Stir until combined. Saute until garlic is golden. (Be careful not to burn garlic.)

4. Add the diced cauliflower. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 10 to 15  minutes.  Add red pepper, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water until al dente.  When done, reserve the pasta water; remove the pasta from the water.

6. Raise heat to medium and add the pasta to the cauliflower sauce.  Add ladles full of pasta water – one at a time – until sauce is creamy. Be careful not to add too much pasta water – only add as needed.

7. Stir well and adjust seasonings. Add chopped fresh parsley, to taste.

8. Serve the pasta with chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

9. Enjoy!

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