Alice Twain is right in stating that cauliflower does not need sauces. No sauces, no merciless boiling.
The cauliflower season in Sicily is long. The first cauliflowers are welcomed as a long lost friends, the last cauliflowers are saluted as life long friends. There are plenty of recipes, one more delicious than the other. For the record, cauliflower, or cavolfiore becomes ‘broccolo’ in Sicily. Actually they’d call them ‘vrocculi’ or ‘rocculi’. What do they call broccoli then? Sparacello. Sicilian cauliflower is green or red.
‘Broccolo ‘arriminato’ is the best recipe to take the winter blues away. This exquisite dish has a privileged place in the Sicilian soul. Arriminato is the Sicilian word for mixed. Very few recipes represent and recall a feeling so strong as this one does. It can be make with white cauliflower. Not only a good way to prepare cauliflower, it is an excellent way to please your diners.
Raw cauliflower florets fried in batter. Easy peasy. Or not? All cooks have their batter recipe. And are terribly secretive about their version. Lately, with the Japanese cuisine fad overflowing the world, tempura has entered the culinary scene, even in Sicily: bloccolo in tempula. Once frying, add some artichokes and ‘cardi’, cardoons.
More cauliflower still
‘Drowned’ cauliflower’ is a popular side dish. Catania uses red wine to drown, Palermo white. As long as there’s anchovy, things can’t get wrong. Often topped off with the Sicilian signature, pine nuts and raisins. Although usually served as a side dish, it can become a salad, even the condiment for pasta.
Cauliflower salad: Boil your cauliflower with mercy, leaving the florets ‘al dente’ – with a bite to them. Let the broccolo cool down and season with olive oil, lemon and salt. Some add a sliced orange. This completes a perfect festive salad.
Certainly not part of the popular tradition but very tasty indeed is cauliflower ‘carpaccio’. Very thin slices of broccolo seasoned with oil and chips of hard cheese.