Monday, October 28, 2013

Eating Fall: Romanesco and Creamy Pasta

This beauty is called Romanesco.  It is available now in the farmers markets.  Romanesco is very popular in Italy, specifically Rome.  In structure it is very cauliflower like; in flavor very broccoli like. I have family members who love to carefully break apart the little "trees", cook them, and place them on mashed potatoes for the holidays. So pretty and so delicious. 

I had a pretty large head of Romanesco (nearly two pounds) and we were craving a pasta dish.  So I made the following - it was amazing. And easy! 


One head of Romanesco (1/12 to 2 pounds)
Three large garlic cloves - leave the skin on the cloves
Extra virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Three anchovy fillets (you can leave them out if you must, but they disappear and they provide so much flavor!)

Two to four tablespoons of Half and Half (full fat)
One pound of shaped pasta - I recommend penne; we used farfalle but I would use the larger penne next time
One half cup of grated pecorino cheese or Parmesan or a combination of both, plus more for service

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Cut up the Romanesco into bite sized pieces
Spread the pieces out onto a large cookie sheet
Put the large garlic cloves on the sheet with the Romanesco 
Sprinkle everything with the EVOO, and salt & pepper to taste
Stir the mixture so that everything is coated and spread out on the cookie sheet
Cook in the 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the veg and the garlic are fork tender 

When you remove the cooked Romanseco and garlic from the oven, keep it warm and cook the pasta

Cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water
Before draining the pasta take one cup of the pasta water out and set it aside

Drain the pasta, put the pasta back in the empty pot

Mash together the roasted garlic (by squeezing it out of its skin), the anchovy fillets, and dried red pepper flakes to taste

Toss the mashed mixture with the pasta in the pot
Add the Romanesco
Mix together the cream and the grated cheese
Add the cheese and cream mixture to the pot -  mix well 

At this point, you can thin your sauce - if you want to - with a bit of the hot pasta water you set aside; a little goes a long way! You probably won't need the whole cup of hot pasta water.

When the mixture is well combined, spoon it into pasta bowls and serve

For service offer additional grated cheese and extra virgin olive oil for a drizzle


Note:  As mentioned we used Farfalle - it was purple and white because it was made with squid ink. So in the second picture that's the dark edges you see. 

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