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Romanesco broccoli with pasta

Recipe by Paola From Italy On My Mind

Serves four

  • 350g your favourite pasta (eg. orecchiette, cavatelli, casarecce)
  • 1 head Romanesco (or use cauliflower if that is all you can find)
  • 100g pancetta, cut into batons
  • 2-3 dried red chillies (or the equivalent in chilli flakes)
  • 2 + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pecorino Romano (or parmesan) to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Break the Romanesco into florets, place in a large bowl and drizzle on two tablespoons of the olive oil. Using your hands, coat the florets in olive oil. Place on a lined baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes until they are charred and cooked to your liking (the cooking time will depend on the size of your florets, start checking after 10 minutes if they are small).
  2. Place the pancetta in a medium-sized pan and cook on low heat (adding a bit of olive oil if there isn’t much fat on your pancetta) for about ten minutes until the fat has rendered. Add the chopped dried chilli (or chilli flakes), the roasted Romanesco (reserving some florets for later) and a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until the Romanesco has started to break down (and cook further if you want it to turn into a cream).
  3. Boil a pot of salted water and cook your pasta according to the manufacturer’s instructions, reserving half a cup of pasta cooking water (just in case you need it for the sauce). Drain the pasta and toss in with the sauce, making sure the pasta is well coated and adding a bit of reserved pasta water if it is too dry.
  4. Garnish with reserved florets and serve on warmed plates. You can also drizzle on a bit of EVOO if you like and make sure you scatter on plenty of cheese.

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