Anytime I see Romanesco at the market I can’t help myself to snatch up as many as I can. I just want to leave them in a bowl on my countertop to look at. They really are a piece of nature’s art. Technically an Italian broccoli variety, I think it’s closer in resemblance to cauliflower. It’s sweet and mild and has a dense texture that holds up to a variety of cooking methods. You can find them in the cold months of late fall and winter.
My favorite way to cook these beauties is roasting in a super hot oven until just tender and slightly charred. You can go as simple as a roasting them with a little chile flake, lemon and olive oil or braise it with some san marzano tomatoes, garlic and anchovies then toss with pasta. Here I’m using it as the base to a hearty salad. Though, if you throw in a hunk of crusty bread, this dish is really an entree. Plus it’s a great way to use up some of that ricotta you just made!
This recipe is inspired by a dish in Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, NOPI. I hope you enjoy!
serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side salad
- 1-2 heads romanesco (about 1lb)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 2 Tablespoons dried currents
- 2 Tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar, plus 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 4oz ricotta
- salt & fresh ground black pepper
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove cores from the heads of the romanesco. Separate florets and cut into even size pieces. Lay out florets in a single layer on a baking sheet, careful to not over crowd them or they won’t get a nice char. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until just tender and the tips of the florets are singed and deep dark brown, about 15 minutes depending on how large the florets are. Remove from oven and set aside.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over breadcrumbs and toast over medium heat in a skillet until dry, golden brown and slightly crunchy. Remove from pan then add pine nuts and toast until light brown and fragrant then set aside. This should only take a couple of minutes. Pine nuts can burn easily so keep an eye on them! Meanwhile, boil a 1/2 cup of water and pour over currents adding the vinegar and let sit until they are rehydrated and soft, about 15 minutes, then drain. Lastly, toss the arugula with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar, season with salt & pepper.
To assemble, divide the ricotta onto the plates, top with romanesco and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, currents, parmesan and arugula.