Double take: a twice-cooked broccoli recipe direct from Rome | Life and style | The Guardian
From Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome by Rachel Roddy.
- Winner of the André Simon Food Book Award 2015.
'Of course I thought Rome was glorious, but I didn't want to stay. A month, three at most, then I'd take a train back to Sicily to finish the clockwise journey I'd interrupted, before moving even further southwards...'
Instead, captivated by the exhilarating life of Testaccio, the wedge-shaped quarter of Rome that centres round the old slaughterhouse and the bustling food market, Rachel decided to rent a flat and live there. Thus began an Italian adventure that's turned into a brand new life. FIVE QUARTERS charts a year in Rachel's small kitchen, shopping, cooking, eating and writing, capturing a uniquely domestic picture of life in this vibrant, charismatic city.
Combining Rachel's love of Italian food and cooking with a strong nostalgia for home and memories of growing up in England, this is a cookbook to read in bed as well as to use in the kitchen.
A much-loved dish in Rome, pasta e broccoli is often made with broccolo Romanesco (Romanesco cauliflower), a curiously beautiful, lime-green vegetable with intricate clusters of closely packed florets.
Cooked Romanesco has the texture and feel of good, creamy cauliflower but the taste of broccoli.
Romanesco is best, but I have also made successful versions of pasta e broccoli with ordinary broccoli, purple-sprouting broccoli and cauliflower.
Broccolo Romanesco and Potato Masher.
1 large head Romanesco cauliflower, or broccoli
Salt, to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 small, red fresh, or dried, chili
6 Tbsp. olive oil
14 ounces short pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
1/3 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan, plus extra to serve
Pull away the tough outer leaves, cut away the hard stem and break the Romanesco, or broccoli, into small florets.
Bring a large pot of water to a fast boil, add salt and stir; then add the florets.
Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender, which will depend on how fresh the Romanesco is.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the florets into a colander.
Meanwhile, peel and gently crush the garlic with the back of a knife and chop the chili.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and chili and cook gently, until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant.
Do not allow the garlic to brown, or it will be ruinously bitter.
Remove the garlic.
Bring the same water you cooked the Romanesco in back to a fast boil and add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, add the Romanesco to the frying pan and stir so that each floret is glistening.
Add salt, stir again and mash the florets gently with the back of a wooden spoon (or Potato Masher) so they break up.
Either drain the pasta, saving some of the cooking water, and tip it into the Romanesco pan; or, better still, use a slotted spoon to lift the pasta into it.
Throw over the Parmesan or pecorino and stir vigorously so that the pasta mixes with the Romanesco.
Serve straight from the pan or with sausages, piled on garlic-rubbed toast or topped with a fried egg.