I didn't know what this strange-looking vegetable was when I picked it up from the vegetable bin at the store. The label was missing and I asked one of the staff; I was told it's called broccoli romanesco. Although it belongs to the broccoli and cauliflower family, it looks more like a spiky cauliflower than broccoli. After photographing the vegetable, I actually find it pretty, rather than a vegetable that came from outer space. I especially love its chartreuse-like hue. And I liked it even more after blanching and adding to pasta. It has a mild sweet taste not unlike cauliflower but no bitterness that cauliflower sometimes has. It also doesn't have a strong smell.
Capellini with Romanesco, Fennel, and Capers
adapted from here
adapted from here
6 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb with some fronds
1 medium onion
1 romanesco, separated into florets
¼ cup capers, drained
sea salt to taste
1 pound angel hair pasta
- In a large pot heat salt and water and bring to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add the romanesco florets. Cook no more than 2 minutes to retain its color and crunch. Remove with a skimmer and set aside. Keep the water boiling.
- Thinly slice the fennel and onion and sautée in 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan until caramelized. Push the caramelized onion and fennel to the side of the pan, turn the heat to high, and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add drained capers into the olive oil and fry until almost crackly.
- Cook the pasta in the pot of boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.
- While pasta is boiling, toss the drained florets into the sauce pan of onions, fennel, and capers and cook until heated through. Turn the heat off.
- Set aside 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta then add to the skillet and toss gently, adding some of the reserved water if it appears too dry. Transfer into a serving platter and serve while hot (I also like it at room temperature).
it looks like a miniature Christmas tree