This sauce is related to the Sicilian classic pasta con le sarde, which features a sweet-and-sour sauce made with fresh sardines and wild fennel (both a little difficult to Find here)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 pound cauliflower flowerets (about 1 small head cauliflower), each floweret cut the long way into several pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, cut into thin rings
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 large ripe tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 anchovies packed in oil, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1 imported bay leaf
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Soak the raisins in 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Steep the saffron in 2 tablespoons warm water in another small bowl.
2. Cook the cauliflower in a large kettle of boiling salted water just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the cauliflower in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop the cooking. Dry the cauliflower well on paper towels.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over moderate heat, add the onions and the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, anchovies, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins with liquid, saffron with liquid, cauliflower, pine nuts, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and cook at a bare simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
4. Toss with hot pasta. In a bowl combine with the pecorino Romano. Blend well. (Add some pasta cooking water if a thinner sauce is desired.) Add the parsley leaves. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.
This sauce is related to the Sicilian classic pasta con le sarde, which features a sweet-and-sour sauce made with fresh sardines and wild fennel (both a little difficult to find here). In this version, cauliflower teams up with saffron and tomatoes -- the tomatoes give the sauce a beautiful color and contribute to the hint of sweet and sour in the dish. In the dried fruit and nut section at Dean & DeLuca you'll find fantastic Chinese pine nuts, which are great here. We love this sauce with a long, thick pasta -- like perciatelli or bucatini, both of which have a hole in the middle. By the way, this sauce tastes even better after a few days in the refrigerator. Makes enough sauce for 1 1/2 pounds dried pasta