Romanesco Broccoli & Rigatoni

The most beautiful vegetable

Romanesco broccoli, or Roman cauliflower, is an edible flower of the species Brassica oleracea, and a variant form of cauliflower. It is sometimes called broccoflower. Although in Italy there are a number of recipes dedicated to Romanesco broccoli, in the rest of the world it is usually prepared like conventional broccoli. Like conventional broccoli, overcooking Romanesco will result in a texture some people find unpleasant. The texture is more tender than cauliflower, making it suited to raw use as crudités. Romanesco broccoli has a milder flavor, more creamy and nutty, and less bitter, than conventional broccolli and cauliflower.

Romanesco Broccoli & Rigatoni

Serves 6

Salt and black pepper
1 lb rigatoni pasta
3 Tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 head romanesco broccoli or broccolini, cut into florets
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2/3 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese, plus more to pass around the table
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a couple of ladlefuls of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the wine for 1 minute, then the chicken stock. Add the broccoli, lemon peel, rosemary and crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

In a serving bowl, toss the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, cooked vegetables, cheese and nuts for a minute. Season with salt and black pepper and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.

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