I am currently at the airport in Istanbul, at 1:30am, waiting for my delayed flight at 6am and I am understandably bloody exhausted. So I am reminiscing of the time I made this pasta. It was a few days ago back home in Italy when we were altogether as a family – the four of us are spread over three continents so it does not happen very often, and we ate and we cooked and we grocery-shopped because that is what my lovely family does. So I was with my family and I made pasta, pasta with gorgeous romanesco broccoli. Romanescos are like the elegant version of a broccoli. They stand up tall, are of a much more delicate green, and are plainly just more beautiful than the other brassicas. I made this mainly for my sister, who I love cooking for. She is a petite 150cm tall girl who maintains a healthy lifestyle back home but whenever I see her in Italy, she seriously indulges. I am talking about two croissants at breakfast (or a croissant and a donut to mix things up a bit), ice cream after lunch, and dessert after dinner. Every day. So whilst everyone else is constantly on a diet, and does not want carbs for dinner, I can make my sister whatever I want. This is as healthy as a pasta gets. Oh, speaking of there is a study showing that pasta actually aids weight loss. Although it was published by Italians and it was probably sponsored by Barilla.
I do love pasta, and I love romanesco, but if you cannot find this queen of brassicas then cauliflower or broccoli will do. My god I wonder if I can charm my way into a business class lounge. I once read somewhere that sadness is just anger without the enthusiasm – you truly get the phrase when you are tired. My flight is delayed by 3 hours and 40 minutes and it just takes too much energy to be frustrated.
1/2 small head of romanesco broccoli
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/2 small red dried chilli, seeds removed and thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Parmesan, grated, to taste
Cut the romanesco into small florets and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Plunge in the florets and cook until tender, then drain but keep the water.
With the same water now bring it back to the boil and cook pasta until al dente.
In the mean time, fry the garlic and chili in a pan with a generous splash of olive oil over low-medium heat for a couple of minutes, do not let the garlic brown. Then remove the garlic.
Add the romanesco and sautee for a couple of minutes and break them up a bit with a wooden spoon.
When the pasta is almost done, drain and reserve some of the water. Add the pasta to the pan and toss with the vegetables until well combined and add a bit of the reserved pasta water if it looks a bit dry. Stir in the parmesan, lemon zest and parsley and drizzle a bit more extra virgin olive oil over the pasta.