When asked about her favorite food, our six-year-old daughter, Michela, invariably names broccoli. The broccoli she’s so fond of is the Romanesco variety. Although it’s fairly new to suburban supermarkets in the United States, Romanesco broccoli has been known in Italy since the 16th century. Grown in the region of Lazio, of which Rome is the capital (hence the name), it is a popular winter vegetable. It’s also used in landscaping—its pointed florets arrange themselves in some amazing fractal shapes. But we buy it because its delicate flavor is so delicious. Often we will simply sauté it and serve it like cauliflower, at room temperature, drizzled with some very good olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Another favorite preparation of the Hazan family is a sauce of Romanesco broccoli served on pasta. It’s so toothsome that Michela sometimes eats the broccoli and leaves the pasta behind.
Fusilli with Broccoflower
From Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta by Giuliano Hazan
Broccoflower has a wonderful sweet nutty flavor that makes a delicious pasta sauce but it’s important to season it aggressively in order for its flavor to come through and to properly season the pasta..
2 medium cloves garlic
2 ounces medium aged pecorino cheese (such as the Crosta Rossa of Pienza)
1 pound fusilli
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
- Remove the leaves around the broccoflower and cut off the root. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Grate the pecorino cheese.
- When the water comes to a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt and add the broccoflower. Cook until tender, 10-12 minutes, then remove it from the boiling water and transfer to a cutting board. Keep the pot of boiling water over high heat. Chop the cooked broccoflower into ?-inch chunks.
- Add the fusilli to the boiling water and stir well. Cook until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, put the chopped garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium high heat. When the garlic is sizzling, add the chopped broccoflower, season generously with salt, and sauté over medium heat, stirring periodically, until the pasta is done. If the broccoflower begins to stick on the bottom of the skillet add a little bit of the boiling pasta water.
- When the fusilli are al dente, drain well, toss with the sauce, add the remaining tablespoon olive oil, and the grated pecorino cheese, and serve at once.