Sicily, surrounded by water and having many ports meant that it was a key player in the spice trail. Whereas other regions of Italy tended to rely solely on their own produce, Sicilian cooking has always been a little more adventurous with its ingredients. This amalgamation of chilli, pinenuts, currants, parsley and lemon zest is classic and its sophisticated sweet and sour combination works beautifully with the delectable Romanesco.
The amazing fractal Romanesco is closer related to broccoli than cauliflower and it has a delicate nutty flavour and great crunchy texture. It holds its shape much better than cauliflower which makes it a useful replacement in lots of recipes and it looks fabulous!
Sicilian Pasta with Sautéed Romanesco, Chilli, Pine nuts, Currants, Parsley and Lemon
1 small to medium Romanesco cauliflower, cut into small florets (use the stalk too, thinly sliced)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
100g pine nuts, toasted
100g currants or raisins
Zest of 1 & juice of ½ lemon
Large handful fresh parsley, chopped
Handful Parmesan, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a pan of boiling salted water, cook the Romanesco for 2-3 minutes, then drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water to stop any further cooking. Drain again and keep to one side. In another pan of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the Romanesco and fry for a couple of minutes until just starting to turn a golden colour. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for couple of minutes more. Add the pine nuts, sultanas, drained, cooked pasta, lemon juice and zest and parsley. Toss together to combine. Check seasoning and transfer to serving bowls and serve drizzled with a olive oil and some grated Parmesan.