Braised Cauliflower (Cavolfiore Affogato)

A traditional side dish of Sicily is Bastaddi affucati, a Sicilian type of purple cauliflower braised with wine. I got the inspiration to try this dish from Viaggiando con Bea. Since bastaddu (in Sicilian, bastardo in Italian) is difficult to find outside of Sicily, the version with regular cauliflower (cavolfiore) is more widespread. Affucatu (affogato in Italian) means ‘drowned’, referring to the fact that the cauliflower is braised with wine. As with all traditional Italian recipes, many versions exist. The main ingredients are cauliflower (also substituted with broccoli), some type of onions, wine (red or white), and sheep’s cheese. The original sheep’s cheese is called pepato, a pecorino from Sicily with pepper corns. Traditionally the onions are spring onions, but many version use regular white or red onions. Other ingredients include olives (green or black), anchovies, raisins, pine kernels, and capers. Although usually a side dish, it can also be served as antipasto or even as a vegetarian main course. It can be served warm or cold.

I served my version of cavolfiore affogato at room temperature as a side dish to a nice dry aged ribeye steak (cooked sous-vide and then seared) with a red wine sauce. Since I had no pepato, I used a good aged pecorino and added freshly ground black pepper instead. Key to the success of this dish is to cook the cauliflower evenly. It should be tender but still firm. To concentrate the flavors, you should use as little water as possible without burning or even browning the cauliflower. This means that it has to cook over low heat with a tight fitting lid.


For 4 servings as a side dish

1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 anchovy fillets, or the equivalent in anchovy paste

1 Tbsp minced black olives

2 Tbsp olive oil

120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

40 grams (4 Tbsp) freshly grated aged pecorino cheese


Heat the oil in a casserole and add the onions. Cook over medium low heat until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. The onions should not brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower and rinse it with cold running water in a colander.

When the onions are soft and fragrant, add the olives and the anchovies.

Stir for a minute.

Add the cauliflower that is still wet from the rinsing. That is all the water you are going to add.

Add the freshly grated cheese. Stir to mix.

Cover with a tight fitting lid so no moisture can escape. Cook for about 20 minutes over low heat.

After 20 minutes, add the red wine.

Stir to mix.

Cover again and cook for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender but still firm.

Turn off the heat and allow the flavors to develop some more before serving. It is great served at room temperature.


Two years ago I tried a recipe from a fellow blogger: pasta with cabbage and gorgonzola, and liked it very much. It is a great way to use up cabbage and it is the caraway seeds that takes it over the top.

15 thoughts on “Braised Cauliflower (Cavolfiore Affogato)

  1. What a great way to cook cauliflower! One that I’ve not seen and am more than willing to try. Lately, the only way I’ve prepared the vegetable is to roast it. I just don’t find it as appealing as I once did. Still, I need a change from roasting and this braise just might be the way. Thanks, Stefan.


  2. Well, ladyredspecs said it for me too 🙂 ! I have never paired cauliflower with red wine and am now dying to try it out!! It is a ‘forte’ recipe so to get some protein a rather simple beef or lamb grillade methinks!!


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