Recipe: Sicilian Orzo with Cauliflower & Saffron

Sicilian Orzo with Cauliflower & Saffron

I tend to think of cauliflower as a wintry vegetable, so thought twice about posting this in the middle of a heatwave here in the UK.  But in fact it’s in season almost all year round and used a lot in the Mediterranean and Middle East in light and summery dishes served in even more blisteringly hot temperatures than ours!

Orzo is a short-cut pasta shape which resembles grains of rice, and I think of this as a cross between a pasta dish and a risotto.  Here it is combined with the finest flavours of Sicilian cuisine – saffron-roasted cauliflower and courgettes, zingy lemon, toasted pine nuts, sozzled sultanas and fresh parsley, to create a warm, summery supper.  Perfect for eating outside with a glass of chilled white wine! 

Recipe: Sicilian Orzo with Cauliflower & Saffron
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Serves 2
  • ½ cauiflower
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 courgette
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 strands saffron
  • 150g orzo
  • 40g sultanas
  • 1 lemon
  • handful baby spinach
  • handful parsley
  • 30g vegetarian pecorino cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Prepare the cauliflower – trim off the leaves and stalk and cut into small-ish florets. Peel and slice the red onion. Slice the courgette thinly. Place all of these in a large roasting tin and scatter with the pine nuts.
  2. In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil gently, and add the garlic and saffron. Leave on a low heat (so they are only just sizzling) for 2-3 minutes until the oil is infused with their flavours. Tip this oil over the vegetables on the baking sheet, and toss thoroughly until they are fully and evenly coated.
  3. Place the vegetables in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, until golden brown and starting to char at the edges.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and tip in the orzo. Boil for 8 minutes, then add the sultanas and boil for a further 2 minutes or until the orzo is tender. Drain.
  5. Tip the drained orzo on top of the vegetables in the roasting tin and toss together to thoroughly combine and coat the orzo with the saffron and garlic oil. Grate the lemon zest on top, then squeeze over the lemon juice, and finally, add the baby spinach and toss until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  6. Divide between two plates, and scatter with the chopped parsley and grated pecorino.
Make it Vegan: Just omit the pecorino (you may want to adjust the seasoning with a little more salt to your own taste)

If you like the look of this recipe please follow me for more…. on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Thanks!  Kate x

Here’s a few more recipes using Orzo from The Veg Space and other blogging friends:

I’ve entered this recipe into the Pasta Please linkup over at Slice Off Me and Tinned Tomatoes


  1. Oh, that looks amazing. I’m in love with Sicilian cuisine ever since I got Sicilian cookbook where they serve brioche rolls & ice cream for breakfast 😉

    1. Brioche and Ice Cream for breakfast?!?! I’m booking plane tickets today!

  2. Intriguing! I’ve never tried orzo before. Dish sounds lovely!

  3. Looks delicious Kate! I’ve never made Orzo, no idea why! Off to buy some now. BRB 😀 x

  4. Wow this looks gorgeous and the photography is stunning. I’ll be saving this for my sister who is vegetarian. She’ll be thrilled

  5. Hello Kate, thanks for linking up with Pasta Please in July 2015 ! Lovely recipe and great photo too ! The round up is now up for you to browse through the other recipes as well! Cheers – Manjiri

    1. Thanks Manjiri – have only just come across Pasta Please but will definitely be submitting another one this month – great idea! X

Comments are closed.