Archives for posts with tag: broccoli
painting depicts ingredients for Romanesco with Gorgonzola Over Pasta recipe

Romanesco. 12″ x 12″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

This week’s farm box included romanesco. Romanesco looks like cauliflower invented by Martians: it has points, spirals, triangular formations and it is often a stunning shade of neon green. You may not have eaten it: I would not have eaten it if I had not subscribed to Riverdog Farm in 2007.

Now, I’ll just tell you that I grew up eating cauliflower smothered with cheese sauce. I would have grown up not eating cauliflower smothered with cheese sauce if I could have managed it, but our family had rules, one of which is that you ate everything you were served. I did not make up this rule, but I had to live with it.

Part of my journey as a cook and as an adult has been to revisit foods I did not care for in my childhood. Some of them stay on the “Do not eat” list: avocado and asparagus have not made it to edible, much less pleasurable, and English peas require careful and judicious camouflage. I still will not eat cauliflower in pale orange cheese sauce, but I will eat it with a sauce featuring two of my favorite things: gorgonzola and cumin seeds.

The same farm that brought romanesco into my life brought me the recipe with which to cook it from the RiverNene CSA in England. I modified their ingredients list and then I modified their cooking method: what I have kept are a little butter, the cumin seeds, some milk and some gorgonzola, although not the quantities of each that I first saw. To get the most out of the creamy, cheesy sauce I like to serve it with pasta. I like whole wheat penne because the darker-colored pasta looks nice with the pale vegetable and sauce and has a nice chewy texture. That said, you could serve it on spinach pasta or tomato pasta for some color and you can eat it without pasta if you are counting carbs.

Romanesco with Gorgonzola over Pasta

Put your pasta water on to boil.

Cut or break your romanesco into florets.

Melt a little butter in a saucepan, perhaps 1 or 2 tablespoons

Fry 1 Tbsp cumin seeds in the butter until aromatic.

Stop the cooking by whisking in 2 Tbsp of flour

Then add some milk — start with 1/2 cup and have more at the ready.

Alternate stirring the sauce and breaking up some Gorgonzola to melt into the sauce. The cheese will help thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick, add a little more milk. If it is too thin, cook it down for awhile or add more cheese.

When your pasta water boils, throw in 1/2 pound of whole wheat penne.

After the pasta has cooked for ten minutes, add your broken or chopped romanesco to the pasta water. Cook for one minute and drain, letting the pasta water fall into a serving bowl to preheat it.

Transfer the sauce, pasta and romanesco to your (drained) serving bowl and stir so that everything gets coated with sauce. Eat while it is warm.

Food Notes: If you don’t have romanesco, you can make this with cauliflower, or even broccoli — it just won’t have the Martian atmosphere. Sometimes I add a few snipped sundried tomatoes into the sauce for the bright taste and the flecks of color: it is winter, after all. Regular pasta works, too. Sigh. The original recipe called for 2 Tbsp of brandy — if you are a brandy-swiller, go ahead and add it to the sauce: I’m sure it tastes delightful.

I like to serve this with a winter salad of raw spinach and sliced oranges. Sometimes I dress it with Orange-Sesame Vinaigrette. However, I had recently read about an orange-tahini dressing and wanted to see if I could put one together (I love tahini and January is a big citrus month). I started by juicing one orange, one Eureka lemon and two Meyer lemons. That yielded one half cup of juice, which I poured into my old Good Seasons cruet (Remember those? They are handy for salad dressings that don’t come in packets!) I added 3 Tbsp Tahini. I tasted it. Now what? I had on the counter some olive oil that I had used to cover roasted red bell peppers. The peppers went onto last night’s pizza, but the oil. I measured 2 Tbsp of the roasted red bell pepper oil. Mmm. That gave a nice roasty flavor. Gotta have salt: I put in 1/2 tsp Kosher salt. And garlic: I pressed 1 small clove of garlic. A little sweetness: in went 1 tsp honey. I thought about putting some cumin in it, but I kept it simple this time — there’s cumin in the romanesco sauce after all.

For a little more heft, I kneaded up a batch of black rye bread, basing it on a recipe by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. But I left out the carrots and the caraway and threw in a little orange juice and zest. It’s rising now: I’ll report on it on Wednesday (or not, if it is not worth writing about).

It’s still January, so they are still doing citrus recipes over at #citruslove. They are worth checking out if you like citrus or have a seasonal glut of it like we do.

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painting shows ingredients for pasta: broccoli, lemons, feta, fresh basil, dried pasta.

Broccoli-Feta-Basil Pasta. 8″x 8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

This week I got a big bunch of fresh basil in the farm box. Fresh basil in October? I’ll take it. I used some of it to make a quick pesto to eat on Portobello mushroom “burgers” last night. I used the rest to make my favorite quick pasta dish: pasta with broccoli, feta and basil.

This is almost a non-recipe.

1) You put your pasta water on to boil

2) You get out a box of pasta — I like short pastas with this: farfalle, fusilli  or penne. I use half a pound for two people because I like leftovers and because when we eat this pasta we eat it as a one-bowl meal.

3) While the water heats and the pasta cooks, wash and chop your broccoli into bite-sized pieces. How much broccoli? I can’t tell you that. How much do you have? How much do you like broccoli?

4) Crumble some feta cheese into a large serving bowl or two individual pasta bowls (You can make this for one, too — just use less of everything). I’m going to say four ounces of feta for two people, but if you want to use more, use more. The more cheese, the better it is, really.

5) Squeeze the juice of one or two lemons over your cheese.

6) Grind some black pepper over  the cheese if you like pepper.

7) Do a quick chiffonade of basil leaves into the cheese.

8) Throw your chopped broccoli into the pasta water in the last minute of the pasta’s cooking. Cook one minute only.

9) Drain pasta and broccoli

10) Toss with feta and basil mixture, or put in individual bowls and stir like mad with a fork to distribute cheese. The cheese melts a little on the warm pasta, releasing the perfume of the basil.

Food Notes: This is best to eat in late spring and early fall, whenever you have the intersection of fresh basil and broccoli and lemons, but I make it in deep winter, too, substituting dried oregano and red wine vinegar for the basil and lemons. It’s good with roasted red peppers or bits of sun-dried tomatoes added to it, too, which add color contrast and winter vitamins. I make this pasta with fresh green beans if I don’t have broccoli — that’s good, but the broccoli version is better. What you don’t need is any salt or olive oil: feta is plenty salty on its own and provides enough fat. Keep it simple.

This is really good made with whole wheat pasta, too, which I buy whenever I find it on sale.

Please come back on Friday for a Halloween surprise.