ROMANESCO BROCCOLI or CORAL BROCCOLI, it is actually a variant form of cauliflower. Awesomely beautiful, it is also a mathematical plant. Its shape is fractal, meaning that each bud is arranged along a logarithmic spiral and each small spiral participates to a larger spiral to obtain the final form. Mind boggling.
This recipe – originally from Puglia – exemplifies the just discussed use of umami-rich ingredients in Italian food. A tiny bit of anchovy combined with a healthy sprinkle of cheese brings out the vibrant flavor of the vegetables and makes a perfect pasta sauce. It is ready in 20 min. Happiness for dinner.
- 350 gr (12 ounces) short pasta like orecchiette or penne
- 1 head Romanesco broccoli, though base stalk trimmed, cut into florets
- 2 tablespoon EVO oil
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 1 large clove of garlic, very finely chopped
- 1 chili pepper (optional)
- 3-4 tablespoon Parmesan, grated
For the sauce, use a large sauté pan or, even better, a wok. Add garlic, chile pepper if using, olive oil, anchovy and saute over low fire until the anchovy is melted. Do not brown the garlic. Set aside.
Please keep in mind that broccoli cook in about 5 min. so you need to boil them for less time than the pasta.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until 5 min. before the end of the cooking time indicated on the package. Add the broccoli florets, cover and bring quickly to the boil again.
After 5 min. strain the vegetables and pasta, and transfer in the wok containing the garlic mixture. Add 2-3 tablespoon of pasta water, half of the cheese and stir vigorously over high fire until all moisture is absorbed . Serve immediately with more cheese on the side.
For a vegetarian version omit the anchovy and use aged pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan. This recipe can be made with regular broccoli and sprouting broccoli as well.