What makes Romanesco Cauliflower so special.
First documented in Italy, it is chartreuse in color. Romanesco has a striking appearance because its form is a natural approximation of a fractal. When compared to a traditional cauliflower, its texture as a vegetable is far more crunchy, and its flavor is not as assertive, being delicate and nutty.
The Romanesco has been grown in Italy since the 16th century.
To "hold infinity in the palm of your hand," as William Blake wrote in "Auguries of Innocence," is not a thought you might associate with cauliflower.
But take a very close look at a type called Romanesco. Its vivid chartreuse color is striking, especially when glowing in the depths of its large blue-green leaves. That's not the half of it. Instead of a broad head of lumpy curds, you'll see a spiral-shaped pyramid, composed of pointy protuberances, which is why one old variety is known as Minaret, inspired by Islamic towers.
Suddenly, vegetable gardening is no longer just nutritious and rewarding; it's beautiful.
Look more closely at Romanesco's protuberances, and you'll see that they are exactly like the whole head itself, in miniature. Zooming in a little further, you'll find that they, too, are composed of bumpy spirals, each a tiny replica of the whole. The form repeats itself on an ever-diminishing scale -- into near-invisibility. This vegetable has an eye on infinity, that's for sure, and would happily go on copying itself forever were it not mortal.
Pasta with Roasted Romanesco and Capers
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil; plus more for drizzling (We have some terrfic olive oils at the shop)
2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry, divided
The Farm's Kosher salt
½ medium The Farm's romanesco or cauliflower, cored, cut into small florets
8 The Farm garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
½ teaspoon The Farm's crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
½ cup dry white wine
12 ounces lumaconi Pappardelle's Pasta (snail shells) or other medium shell pasta sold at the shop
2 ounces aged Asiago cheese or Pecorino, finely grated (suggested- Arethusa Mt Tom Cheese)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter Arethusa Cultured butter available at the shop
Preheat oven to 425°. Cook almonds, ¼ cup oil, and 1 Tbsp. capers in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until capers burst and almonds are golden brown and smell toasty, about 5 minutes. Transfer almonds and capers with a slotted spoon to a small bowl; season with salt. Let cool. Toss romanesco with oil from saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Roast, tossing halfway through, until golden brown and tender, 20–25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Add garlic, ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, and remaining 1 Tbsp. capers and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
Using a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with garlic; add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Reduce heat to medium and cook, tossing often, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add cheese, tossing until melted and dissolved into a luxurious, glossy sauce. Remove from heat; add butter and toss to combine. Toss in romanesco.
Divide pasta among bowls. Top with fried almonds and capers and more red pepper flakes and drizzle with oil.
Recipe by Claire Saffitz