Crunchy, funky pasta with charred Brussels sprouts and cauliflower

Pasta with charred Brussels sprouts and cauliflowerWe found this recipe through Food & Wine Magazine, where they credit Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri with the idea of charring  cauliflower and Brussels sprouts along with anchovies, garlic, onion and rosemary. We first tried this combination the Chef Vetri way, tossed with thick strands of bucatini pasta. We liked the hearty zing of anchovy and crushed pepper, but didn’t think the bucatini (even made by Steve on his new pasta press!) was a benefit, and actually buried the nicely charred cauliflower and sprouts. We also thought adding pasta water made the crispy breadcrumbs soggy. So the next time we changed the pasta to store-bought shells, left out the water, threw in some extra veg and a handful of toasted nuts as well. It ended up being a fairly simple yet sassy pasta dish that helped liven up what has so far been a somewhat bleak winter.


(adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)

  • 2 c. dried short pasta (we used pipe rigate)
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 1/4-1/2 lb. cauliflower florets
  • 1 small onion or equivalent amount shallots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 oil-packed anchovies, minced
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp. chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces
  • Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in a boiling, salted water until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, toast bread crumbs with some olive oil in a small skillet, tossing frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Then, heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Add Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until charred on all sides. Season with salt and pepper while cooking.

Reduce heat. Add a bit more olive oil to skillet, then add onion, garlic, anchovies, red pepper and rosemary. Cook, stirring, until onions are slightly softened. Taste for seasoning.

Drain pasta and add to vegetables in skillet. Toss. Stir in toasted bread crumbs, walnuts and grated cheese.


  1. I fear charring would quickly degenerate to burning. How do you know when something is charred versus irredeemably scorched? It sounds like a good recipe, though. I’ve converted some members of the family to brussels sprouts through chopping them and sautéing them and then sprinkling with Parm and pine nuts. Do you ever wonder why they’re called “Brussels sprouts”?

  2. sounds good. I would part-steam the cauliflower a little, just because I cannot stand the flavor of less than thoroughly cooked cauliflower + I wonder if some plumped up sultanas would add a nice sweet tone and I like the sausage idea Nadia mentions . I have Marc Vieri’s rustic italan book and it has nice things in it, not necessarily genuine Italian but not completley off the track/mark either

    • Raisins or currants would be nice. The only thing that would concern me about steaming the cauliflower is whether it would properly brown up. It was pretty incinerated as it was. 🙂

  3. I love this recipe. It’s simple yet heart and delicious. I still need to do a post with the pasta maker you sent. I should have more time after a filing I’ve been working on to do some time consuming dishes. But this does the work for you and it’s so beautiful. I love the apron of breadcrumbs. Xo

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