Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring cooking

I love the fact that it is still light out at 19:30. The days are getting so much longer here and natural light is back for good. This means that I can shoot just before we eat our dinner which gives me more options to share with you all.

Like this pasta dish. This happened the other day when I came home with a bagful of vegetables, a fresh head of romanesco among them, and a large loaf of sourdough bread.

Romanesco is the kind of vegetable that makes me want to just sit and stare at it rather than cook it. It’s so cute and weird with its intensely green color and its little spiky florets; it’s like the prettier, more exciting sibling of the common broccoli and cauliflower.

So after I photographed the hell out of it, I decided to roast it with garlic and serve it in a pasta dish together with homemade sourdough croutons, black Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with some freshly grated parmesan.

It made a delicious and fulfilling dinner for S and me, with the garlicky, nutty flavor of the romanesco, the briny olives, the crunchy croutons and sweet sun-dried tomatoes, with a nice variety of textures and clear, distinct flavors that paired together in a harmonious way.
Everyday cooking gets much better in spring doesn’t it?

Pasta with Roasted Romanesco, Sourdough Croutons, Kalamata Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Romanesco has a slightly bitter and earthy flavor that is a little milder than broccoli and nuttier than cauliflower. You can treat it just like you would broccoli and cauliflower.

I used a type of pasta called boccole (not a very widely known type of pasta) which looks like shorter rigatoni but you can use any other smallish-shaped pasta you have on hand like farfalle, penne or fusilli.

By omitting the parmesan you have a perfect Lenten dish.

Yield: enough for 2 very hungry people or 4 small portions

2 thick, dark sourdough bread slices (about 100g), cut into cubes
1 head romanesco, broken into florets
4 garlic cloves with skins, smashed once with the blade of a knife
5 Tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling over the top
12 black Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped in half
6 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
250 g dried boccole rigate pasta
Parmesan, freshly grated, to your liking

Special equipment: large baking sheet, baking paper, large wide skillet or shallow wide pan

Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Line a large baking sheet with baking paper and scatter the cubed bread in one layer. Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the bread is crispy and browned. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and transfer croutons to a plate.

Turn the oven down to 190°C.
In a large bowl, toss romanesco florets and garlic with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Line the same baking sheet with a different piece of baking paper and add the romanesco florets and garlic. Roast for about 16 minutes, until the romanesco has slightly softened and lightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and let romanesco sit in the baking sheet.

In the meantime, boil the pasta in salted boiling water until cooked al dente (to the tooth) or to your liking, stirring often so they don’t stick to one another.

In a large skillet or wide pan, add the remaining 3 Tbsp of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Take the garlic cloves from the baking sheet and squeeze the flesh out of their skins and into the skillet along with the croutons. Sauté for a couple of minutes until golden, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, the balsamic vinegar and a little pepper, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the roasted romanesco and the drained pasta to the skillet and toss well to mix.
Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and serve immediately in individual plates.
Top with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!


  1. looks delicious Magda! It's so wonderful when the time changes this time of year!

  2. I love the way a romanesco looks. How does it taste? Like a cauliflower and broccoli in the mix? Love your photos and also enjoy your spring recipe. The spring weather makes me so happy :) you too? But it's nothing with Greece I think.

  3. Wow, cheers to your everyday cooking! This looks seriously good, I love the combination of kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and romanesco. Yes, the spring change makes everything seem brighter and fresher, doesn't it?!

  4. Beautiful and simple - our posts today are very similar in that respect! Is looks gorgeous, and that Romanesco is the most beautiful vegetable ever! ~ David

  5. I do not think I have ever seen Romanesco in our area, but I will pay closer attention as it is just so beautiful and exotic. Wonderful photos.

  6. I totally agree, having a blog in the spring and summer is so much easier because you can post about things you enjoy without a lot of planning ahead. In the winter it is all about what I manage to get done on the week end usually! I also love romanesco, it is such a beautiful vegetable. Proof of the perfection of nature, no? I also like the taste and texture... such a great ingredient. Paring it with the ingredients you used in your pasta sounds delicious.

  7. I also love staring at romanesco, it is soooooooo beautiful. It makes me think of a vegetable that could have been engineered by Leonardo da Vinci :D

    So, seeing that you are already eating croutons, I'll take that as a sign that you've finally recovered from the wisdom-tooth issues. Now you just need to go and find you're wisdom again lol (just joking!)