Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Romanesco Orange Cauliflower Pasta Casserole

Who has eaten romanesco? How about orange cauliflower? 

Is an orange cauliflower better than the typical white varity? The orange cauliflower was discovered in Canada in 1970 and after many years of crossbreeding they are now widely available. The orange color comes from a genetic mutation that allows the plant to hold more beta carotene, which gives the plant 25% more vitamin A than the white cauliflower.

Despite being called the Cheddar cauliflower, it doesn’t have a cheesy taste. Orange cauliflowers taste about the same as the white ones, but some say it has a sweetier taste and creamier texture.

Romanesco looks like it came from an alien planet. It’s spiral formation didn’t always exist in nature, but was a result of selective breeding by Italian farmers in the 16th century.

This edible flower is from the same family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. It taste is very similar to cauliflower, but with a slightly nuttier, earthier flavor.

This recipe takes 45-60 minutes to prepare and cook. You need a Dutch Oven for this recipe. Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 of a head of romanesco, cut into florets
1/2 of a head of orange cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 box of mezze rigatoni
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated


In a large pot bring to boil and cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions.

While the pasta is cooking add the oil and butter to the Dutch Oven and warm on med/high heat. When hot add in the onions, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir until the onions soften.  Then add in the stock cook one minute then add in the wine. Arrange the romanesco and cauliflower on top of the onions then add the red pepper flakes, lemon zest and fresh rosemary. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the vegetables and pasta are done add a laddleful of pasta water to the vegetables. Drain the rest of the pasta water and add the pasta to the Dutch Oven with the vegetables. Add in the ricotta cheese, thyme and pecorino cheese, mix well. Taste test for adding additional salt and pepper. Serve hot. Yum Yum!

PS: Have a leftover chicken breast? Cube a cooked chicken breast to make this into a meal for dinner. Just add a salad and a glass of your favorite white wine. 

PSS: I really wanted to make this , but I guess I’ll have to wait until next December when romanesco is harvested and sold in stores. I’ve looked in most of the Indianapolis stores and there is none to be found.🙁

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