Spicy Slow Cooker Pasta for a Fall Day

Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower and Anchovy Crumbs

Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower and Anchovy Crumbs

It’s a beautiful fall Sunday here and all I could think of is spending as much time as possible out of doors before the cold weather closes in.  That’s why I am so grateful for my slow cooker.  While I took a long walk this morning, and worked in my garden this afternoon, my slow cooker has been simmering away, turning a handful of ingredients into a rich, spicy sauce to serve with pasta.

I made it with a fresh, snowy white cauliflower, crushed tomatoes, garlic and spices.  The finishing touch is  toasted bread crumbs, spiked with anchovies.  It’s a traditional topping that adds a crunchy, salty finish, but if you like you can season the crumbs with some garlic instead of the anchovies and top the pasta with grated cheese.  It’s hearty and warming — just what we want on a chilly fall evening.

Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower and Anchovy Crumbs

Serves 6

1 small cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon oregano


Pinch of crushed red pepper

1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

4 anchovy fillets

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound (16 ounces) shells, fusilli, or other dried pasta, cooked and drained

In a large slow cooker, stir together the tomatoes, water, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, oregano, salt and crushed red pepper.  Add the cauliflower.  Cover and cook on high 3 hours or until the cauliflower is very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small skillet.  Add the anchovies (or 1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic) and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the anchovies are dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are toasty, about 5 minutes more.  Season with black pepper.

Toss the the sauce with the hot cooked pasta.  Sprinkle with the crumbs and serve.

Copyright 2013 THE MEDITERRANEAN SLOW COOKER by Michele Scicolone.  All rights reserved.


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1 Adri { 10.20.13 at 6:37 PM }

Wow- this sounds wonderful. It’s a no-hassle meal. Thanks!

2 Ann Vece { 10.20.13 at 6:40 PM }

This sounds like the perfect autumn dish. You never fail to hit the mark.

3 Michele Scicolone { 10.21.13 at 5:50 AM }

So easy and so good. Hope you enjoy it!

4 Lee White { 10.21.13 at 12:02 PM }

Love all your cookbooks; have written about the holiday cookbook. Must get the slow cooker one. The pasta with anchovy crumbs sounds delicious.

5 Michele Scicolone { 10.21.13 at 12:23 PM }

Thanks, Lee. I have 3 slow cooker books out: Italian, French and Mediterranean. Hope you enjoy them!

6 Mari @ Once Upon a Plate { 10.21.13 at 9:52 PM }

This sounds fabulous Michelle, it’s going to be on the menu at my house very soon. (You especially captured my attention with the anchovy crumbs!) Thank you for sharing. 🙂

7 Barbara F. { 10.22.13 at 1:39 PM }

This looks and sounds so delicious! Adding it to my “must try” list! I make pasta and cauliflower and melt an anchovy in the oil when I saute the onion. Love using the slow cooker. Question: Are you related to Sophia Loren? Her maiden name I believe was Scicolone! xo

8 Michele Scicolone { 10.31.13 at 10:10 AM }

Hope you enjoy it, Barbara!

9 Michele Scicolone { 10.31.13 at 10:12 AM }

It’s a favorite around my house, Mari! Thanks for writing.

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    • Michele Scicolone