This pasta with cauliflower recipe from Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ and Sara Jenkins’ cookbook, The Four Seasons of Pasta, is made with Romanesco cauliflower, freshly ground black pepper, and anchovies for a deeply flavorful, textured pasta.
Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins, 2015.
- 1 large head Romanesco, trimmed
- 1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, smashed with the flat blade of a knife and coarsely chopped
- 2 large salted or oil-packed anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
- 1 small dried red chile pepper, or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/3 Cup coarsely chopped pitted black olives, preferably Gaeta
- 2 Tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 Pound pennette or similar short, stubby pasta, such as lumache, garganelli, or fusilli
- 1 Cup freshly grated grana padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/3 Cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 Cup toasted bread crumbs
Set the oven on 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Break the Romanesco into small florets, each about 1 inch long. If they’re very fat, cut them in half. Toss the florets in a bowl with 6 tablespoons of the oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Distribute the florets in an even layer over the parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer to the hot oven and roast, stirring and turning every 10 to 15 minutes, until the florets are tender but crisp and brown around the edges, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
In a heavy, deep pan large enough to hold the romanesco and the cooked pasta, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil with the butter over low heat until the butter has melted and foamed slightly. Add the garlic and cook very gently until the garlic is softened. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the anchovy fillets and continue cooking, crushing the anchovies into the oil with a fork. Break up the chili pepper, discarding some of the seeds (to reduce the heat), and add the chile pieces along with the olives and capers. Cook a little bit more, just to meld the flavors. Now stir in the roasted Romanesco and toss to mix well. Keep warm until the pasta is ready.
When the pasta water boils, add salt and the pasta.
When the pasta is almost done, add about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the Romanesco mixture and set over gentle heat to come to a simmer. Drain the pasta before it is completely al dente and combine with the Romanesco, tossing to mix. Let it cook together a few minutes longer until the pasta is thoroughly cooked. Turn it into a warm serving bowl.
Set aside a spoonful of grated cheese, a spoonful of parsley, and a spoonful of toasted bread crumbs to use as a garnish. Add the remaining cheese, parsley, and bread crumbs to the pasta and toss. Serve immediately, topped with the reserved cheese, parsley, and bread crumbs.