Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni: just a few quality ingredients for this easy, tasty, and classic pasta dish that will transport you to Rome and the flavors of its food scene.
My father is a good cook, and what is better, he loves to cook. He is not even a messy cook, he usually cleans after himself, and this makes him so much like my husband, Loreto. I often hear women complain about the mess their husbands leave in the kitchen when cooking, not me, I was pretty lucky with the men in my lives. My brother is a different story, he is a good eater, but don't ask him to cook. Absolutely anything, for that matters 🙂 .
My father can spend hours in his Roman kitchen, mostly cleaning, washing, and boiling verdura, greens and vegetables, that will be ready to be sautéed, or frozen, or roasted, and enjoyed by the whole family. In the summer, most of the greens and vegetables are from his garden in the country; in Autumn and Winter the garden produces mostly cabbage and kale, the rest is from organic Farmers Markets. Yes, we have that in common with my family, organic, simple eating is our way of life. He also loves, when in the countryside, to spend the mornings foraging and bringing back home any kind of seasonal finds: wild fruits, berries, asparagus, chestnuts, mushrooms. With the fruits and berries, he makes super delicious jams, and every time we go back he makes sure he has few jars for us to bring to Canada. During our last phone talk he told me that he had found some mushrooms, (including porcini, so jealous!) but very few chestnuts, this year is not so good for chestnuts. I guess it is the same as for olives, one year there are plenty on the trees, the next year none. Nature's unpredictability.
Pasta e Broccoli
Among his go-to, most famous and tasty pasta dishes there is Pasta e broccoli. That in Rome means: pasta corta, any kind, with the broccolo romanesco. Pasta corta meaning short pasta: rigatoni, maccheroni, mezze maniche, penne, etc, as opposed to pasta lunga, long pasta: spaghetti, linguine, bucatini, ziti, etc. Fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle are not considered pasta lunga, even if they're long shaped, but pasta all'uovo (egg pasta). I know, crazy, eh? But as I told you here, and here, we are pretty serious to match pasta shape and pasta sauce 🙂 .
I was digressing from the topic, again. Sorry, back on track.
How it's done
Every so often my father would cook this Romanesco Broccoli Pasta and we would all be so happy. He would start by cleaning the romanesco broccoli into florets, cooking them slightly in plenty of salted boiling water, and keeping the water aside to cook the pasta in. Then he would add the broccoli florets to a sauteing pan where plenty of good e.v.o. oil, garlic, and chili pepper (peperoncino) would be sizzling. The smell already anticipating the taste. He would mash some of the broccoli gently with a fork, adjust with salt and pepper, then add a bit of the pasta cooking water, and this would create a lovely creaminess, without using any cream.
We would all be hungry by then and the smell coming from the kitchen would be killing us, so we would take the pasta out of the water even more "al dente" than usual, with the excuse that it needs to saute in the pan. He would take his time, and carefully and meticulously toss the pasta in the pan to coat it completely with the broccoli sauce while sprinkling a very generous amount of Pecorino Romano (or a mix of Pecorino/Parmigiano), which will create more creaminess. The pasta will stay in the pan and come to the dressed dining room table where all the pasta bowls would be handed to be filled by big spoonfuls. The finishing touch, some more Pecorino or Parmigiano grated on top. I can hear the clinging of the forks in the bowls, the wine being poured, Salute, Buon appetito.
And that's exactly how I made this Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni, in my Canadian kitchen, a thousand miles away from Rome. It reminds me so much of home. It is actually able to transport me to my city, just closing my eyes and putting a forkful in my mouth.
Song of the day: Philip Phillips "Home" (we saw him in concert in Edmonton, a couple of years ago).Print
We also have a recipe for Farro Fusilli with Broccoli, with a different kind of broccoli. Enjoy!