Romanesco with pasta

Romanesco with pasta

By
From
Sicily
Serves
4

Broccolo here refers to those green pointed Romanesco cauliflowers that look like an incredible, miniature work of architecture. You can, however, make this sauce with white cauliflower – both types soften down to create a creamy pasta sauce (without any cream!). At Mandranova agriturismo near Agrigento, Silvia Di Vincenzo stirred the cauliflower into pasta shells. The shapes caught the soft florets with the pinoli (pine nuts) and tiny black currants. Local pinoli are long, fruity and oily, and have a distinct flavour a world apart from the tiny dry Chinese imported ones. Seek them out if you can.

This is supposed to be a sauce for pasta but for me it also makes the most delicious soupy stew to eat on a cold autumn day. To add a little crunch, you can top the dish with toasted breadcrumbs and a little grated hard cheese. Cooking the pasta in the broccolo water enhances the flavour, too

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g romanesco or white cauliflower
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon currants or small raisins
1 tablespoons pine nuts
pinch saffron strands
salt
freshly ground black pepper
handful dry breadcrumbs or finely grated parmesan, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Cut the Romanesco or cauliflower into florets and discard the leaves (you can use these too if you have lots of them). Plunge them into salted boiling water and cook until just tender when pierced with a fork. Get a large bowl of iced water ready. Remove the florets with a slotted spoon and drop them into the chilled water to cool and to keep their colour. Retain the cooking water.
  2. Drain the Romanesco and use your hands to break the florets into smaller pieces. Heat the oil in a frying pan (skillet) and fry the onion and anchovies until just softened. Add the Romanesco, bay leaf, currants and pine nuts, then top up with the Romanesco cooking water to cover. Soften the saffron strands in a tablespoon of hot water and stir into the pan. Break up the Romanesco with a wooden spoon so that the sauce becomes dense and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Eat as it is or with cooked dried pasta, sprinkled with breadcrumbs or Parmesan, if you like.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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