Marsala, in Sicily, offers simple pleasures. . . like enjoying bruschetta, lunch, and an aperitif at a small restaurant with a big wine cellar. Or meeting and greeting friends out on an evening stroll, or passeggiata, through the gentle streets of this ancient port town. Gazing at islands some distance from the shore. 

And did we mention wine? Marsala wine has been produced in Sicily ever since Phoenician times.

Today, Marsala wine is probably best known for the role it plays so well in the culinary world. When choosing a wine for cooking, chefs may pick Marsala when the desired result is a caramelized dish that’s richly flavored.

Using wine for cooking is an excellent way to add sophistication to a dish without adding fat. Most of the alcohol content in the wine will cook off as a dish simmers, but the taste will remain and enhance flavor.

Marsala is often associated with chicken dishes. But did you know that it enhances vegetarian dishes every bit as gracefully?  

Here is an example. This rustic cauliflower and white bean dish is low in fat — yet packed with nutrients, and bursting with flavor.

Mushroom Marsala Over Riced Cauliflower

Take a little break from pasta with this offering. In under a half-hour, you can prepare this beautiful and hearty side or main dish that’s purely plant-based and delicious.


3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ Vidalia (or sweet) onion, diced

1 orange or yellow pepper, diced

½ tsp. oregano, dried or fresh

1 cup Marsala wine for cooking

15 baby bella mushrooms, sliced (baby bella mushrooms may also be called crimini or cremini mushrooms)

1 small (14 or 14.5) ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 small can of cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans)

¼ cup basil, fresh if possible and cut into ribbons

One head of cauliflower, riced (or one package of riced cauliflower)

Salt and pepper


Sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Watch for them to turn slightly golden brown at the edges, and then add the bell peppers, oregano, and a pinch of salt.

Continue sautéing, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

Add Marsala cooking wine and cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Some of the liquid will cook off during this time.

Add the mushrooms and diced tomatoes and keep the medium-high heat on for another 5 minutes, and stir the beans in.

Now add your herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté the mix over medium heat with the riced cauliflower for 8 minutes.

Serves 4.

In Italy, the word for cauliflower is cavolfiore. The vegetable has long been featured in Italian cuisine.  So cooking cauliflower with Italian wine is a natural.  Buon appetito!