I was delighted to come upon a Romanesco broccoli in my local fruit shop as I usually only see these in Italy. The first time I saw one I was intrigued by its form and chartreuse colour. This vegetable dates from the 16th century and is part of the brassica family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
I like to roast the florets with olive oil, chilli flakes, salt and pepper to bring out the delicious nutty flavour. In this recipe, I take it a step further and make a pasta dish. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
1 head romanesco (or 1 small head cauliflower), cut into small florets
1 red onion, sliced 1cm thick
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp pasta sprinkle (available at Kitchen to Table) * see alternatives in the notes section
salt and pepper
6 large cherry tomatoes (or 12 if small), halved
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
60g parmesan, finely grated
250g pasta – a short twisted style such as casarecce or orecchiette work well
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- In an ovenproof, non-stick pan add the chopped romanesco (or cauliflower) and red onion. Add the pasta sprinkle and season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss to coat everything evenly. Place into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender and the romanesco (or cauliflower) is starting to colour.
- Add the cherry tomato halves and roast for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the chicken stock and simmer while you cook the pasta.
- For the pasta bring a pot of water to the boil, then add enough salt so that the water takes as salty as the sea. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to the directions on the packet. When pasta is al dente transfer it to the pan with the romanesco sauce, taking some of the pasta water as you go … this helps the sauce and the pasta to meld together. You may need to add another ladle or 2 or pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed (you be the judge of that).
- Toss the pasta with the sauce, cook for another minute or two then remove from the heat. Stir through the chopped parsley and most of the parmesan, saving some to garnish.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan.
NOTES: In place of the pasta sprinkle you could use: 2 tsp dried Italian herbs + 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes (or to your liking) OR some fresh thyme and rosemary (strip the leaves off the stalk and finely chop) and some chilli flakes or fresh chilli, finely diced. Once again use as much or as little chilli as you like.