Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Romanesco Cauliflower & Chilli Pasta

Romanesco cauliflowers are like jewels.  Pretty fractal emeralds which call out to me from market stalls at this time of year.  They seem so rare and precious that I feel the need to do them justice; more so than any other vegetable.  I want to show them off in the manner they deserve.

Small romanescos are magnificent steamed whole and served with a bechamel sauce which has had large chunks of stilton stirred through at the last minute (so that they're just beginning to melt but haven't yet disappeared...) and then topped with crunchy toasted pine nuts.

On a quest for a simple dish befitting the romanesco but a little less artery clogging, I paired it with chilli and garlic to make a substantial week night dinner.  It's nothing new or inventive - there are probably a million similar recipes out there - but it's a hearty bowl of bejewelled pasta that makes me happy.

This will make enough for 2 hungry adults.


1 medium romanesco caulifower
1/2 - 1 red chilli (depending on how hot your chilli is and how much heat you want)
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp good olive oil
200g penne or rigatoni pasta
salt & pepper
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan (or other hard cheese)


Break the cauliflower into small florets and roughly chop the stalks into small pieces.  Wash thoroughly.  Finely chop the chilli and garlic.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.  Cook the cauliflower for about 8 minutes until soft but not falling apart.  Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and set to one side (don't discard the cooking water).

Bring the water back to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

In the meantime, heat a wide based saute or frying pan.  Add the olive oil and then the cauliflower.  Saute over a medium heat, stirring often, until the cauliflower begins to break down a little.  Turn down the heat and add the chilli and garlic and season generously with freshly ground black pepper and salt.  Continue to for a couple of minutes, taking care not to let the garlic burn.

Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the cauliflower, using a slotted spoon, along with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.  Stir in most of the grated cheese, reserving a little to serve (to make this dish vegan omit the cheese).


  1. Wonderful. It looks like just the thing for a chilly, grey winter day.

  2. I love you food. Everything looks so lovely. I will be back for more :D