Romanesco! Nature's fractal
Jan. 17, 2013 3:11 pm
Updated: Jan. 18, 2013 10:29 am
Isn't romanesco just cool? If you don't know this veg or haven't eaten it yet, a Romanesco is in the cauliflower family and sort of a cross between a cauliflower and broccoli. I think it might have been first cultivated in Italy actually, but then Italians
do like to claim first on lots of stuff when it comes to cooking. :)
If you've ever had Sicilian cauliflower, which is a rich green color not white and in fact called "brocollo", the romanesco tastes like that. And appearance wise, as you can see from the picture a romanesco is like a fractal which means that it has a pattern
that repeats itself whether you look closely or from very far. It's an awesome vegetable and we love to find it at the farmer's market.
An easy way to prepare romanesco besides boiling in water with a little salt and eating it like you would broccoli would be to give a quick stir fry with pine nuts and a bit of chili. Boil the florets in a bit of salted water for a few minutes then remove and
rinse under cold water to halt the cooking. Then heat up a bit of oil in a pan, add a little onion, scallions or shallots, garlic, a pinch of peperoncino (or red pepper flakes) and then the romanesco florets. Saute for a few minutes and add roasted pine nuts
and a small squeeze of lemon. Yum!
My favorite romanesco prep is to cook it with a short pasta with much of the above. I typically use farfalle or campanelle
and throw the romanesco florets in with the pasta and its salted boiling water when there's 5-6 minutes left on the cooking time. In the meantime, in a large saucepan heat up some oil, chopped garlic (1-2 cloves), a pinch of peperoncino (or red pepper
flakes) and salt and pepper. Saute until the garlic is golden and then add 2 TBSPs of capers that have been drained well and cook for two more minute. In Sicily you'd use anchovies but I learned to substitute capers from a Giuliano Bugialli tip and I like
this better. Drain the pasta and romanesco reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the sauce pan. Throw in 1/2 cup of grated pecorino, 2 TBSP of toasted pine nuts and toss well. Optionally you could also melt 1/2 cup of mascarpone in the pan prior
to adding the pasta and also add up to 1/4 cup of toasted bread crumbs. Add some of the reserved pasta water to make a sauce as needed.
Serve and enjoy right away with more grated pecorino.
pasta e romanesco