My hubby, aka. math geek, saw this Romanesco Cauliflower (Romanesco broccoli) and immediately shouted out the word, fractal geometry. What a funny geek he is. He didn’t know at that time that he would be eating that strange looking veggie later on. He liked it, by the way. As long as he did not see the veggie, he would eat whatever in front of him. So if your family is anything like mine, blending the veggie might be the first step to introduce them to a new kind of veggie.
This recipe is adapted from Love & Lemon, a wonderful blog where you can find many healthy recipes and a lot more. The very talented Jeanine, from Love & Lemon, is very creative with vegetable recipe, and I am so inspired by her blog. I have never cooked with romanesco cauliflower before. but when I saw it at the Farmers Market recently, I immediately thought of this recipe. Of course, you can use regular cauliflower, and if you go to Love & Lemon, you will find a vegan/gluten-free version of this recipe as well.
- 2 big head of romanesco cauliflower (about 480 grams of small florets)
- 16 oz orecchiette pasta
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 50 grams sun dried tomato
- 50 grams cooked sweet corn (about 1/2 cord)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- about 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated+
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds (option)
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt & pepper
- pasta water, as needed to thin out the sauce
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar (option)
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 4 oz. cheddar cheese++ underneath the panko
- 1/4 cup micro green
- a few pinches of red pepper flakes (option)
+in this case, I used 4 oz. of point reyes toma
++ in this case, I used 4 oz. wagon wheel.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until tender but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain and scoop the cauliflower into a bowl. Squeeze about 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice into the bowl, and evenly coat cauliflower florets with lemon juice. Set aside.
In the same pot, cook pasta as per instruction on the package. When your pasta is al dente, set aside 2 cups of pasta water, then fully drain the pasta and the water out of the large pot.
In a separate bowl, add cooked pasta to the bowl, then sprinkle with 2 tbs. of parmesan cheese & 2 tbs. of hemp seeds. Set aside.
In the blender, add cauliflower florets, dijon mustard, sun dried tomato, cooked corn, garlic, salt, pepper, and puree well. Scrape the sides of the blender as needed. Add about 4 oz. of cheddar cheese, sherry vinegar, and blend again. While the blender is running, pour olive oil in slowly. Add pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. If you find this sauce too sour, add agave nectar, and blend until well combined.
Combine pasta with the sauce, and pour into a large baking dish (or a few individual sized dishes). In this case, a rectangular baking dish (10inch x 7inch x 2inch) is a perfect size. Do not forget to coat the baking dish with cooking oil spray beforehand. Top with cheddar cheese, then panko and parmesan cheese. Bake until the top is golden and crispy, about 12-20 minutes depending on the size of your dish. Remove from oven and top with micro green and red pepper flakes (option).