We were excited to head to the island yesterday for a little WestWard time. No guests this week-end, so a simple chèvre stuffed chicken breast, baked potato and a little Romanesco was on the menu. It has become a favorite veg–one for the taste but I also think they look cool, slightly other-worldly. And they are green! The grocery store had quite small versions, so I bought 2. Slathered them with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted them whole in the oven while the chicken and potatoes cooked away. I put them on a sheet pan and began to roast them whole in a 400 degree oven. Towards the end of the cooking process they were not looking as cooked/golden as I wanted, so I split them in half, putting the core side down on the baking sheet, where I let them cook away for another 15 minutes. Just the right amount of time to give them that golden hue I was going for.
This time of year the produce is so abundant & varied, it is nice to mix it up and use things that you don’t see all year at the grocer. That is where ramps and Romanesco come in. Both have a fairly short span at the market for availability, so roasting some up to toss with pasta and a bit of Parm for a simple meal was on our list. Ramps, if you are unfamiliar, are a wild onion. They are sometimes referred to as wild leeks. They taste like a mixture of garlic and onion. The Romanesco, is an edible flower bud of the species Brassica oleracea. First documented in Italy, it is chartreuse in color. Which you know I love. You see it listed sometimes as broccoli, other times as cauliflower. Either way, it is just delicious roasted.
You know the drill. Heat oven to the sweet spot of 400 degrees. Break up florets from the Romanesco, scattering onto a baking sheet. Then cut up the ramps. I just used the middle of the stalk for this, not using the bulb. We like them larger in size to roast, but then cut them into smaller pieces before we toss with the pasta and cheese. They are powerful little bites. Add the ramps to the baking sheet. Douse all with a healthy amount of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. With your hands or a big spoon, mix all around so everything is thoroughly coated. Don’t be stingy with the olive oil as it plays a part in the overall flavor when mixed with the pasta. Put the now beyond glorious pan into the oven and let roast away for 10 minutes. Shake the pan to move things around. Another 10 minutes and check if starting to brown and caramelize. If not, shake and move around again and check after another 10 minutes. So much depends on the size of things. When done, mix this goodness with your favorite pasta you cooked while all this was roasting away. Dust with Parmesan. Mix. Dust again. Done. Beyond simple. So good.
I made this at WestWard the week-end before last and I had wanted to write about it earlier, but today is the day. The Romanesco is nearing its finish of season and was still looking great at Frank’s so that is what got the whole ball rolling. A big white onion was added too plus a lemon.
Walking around the Market getting inspired about making a meal is one of my very favorite things. One thing leads to another. 2 big skinless boneless chicken breasts from Don & Joe’s that were just looking plump & luscious. Next. DeLaurentis was were I went to look for butter noodles but then the box of pappardelle looked great. Picked up a big piece of Parm there. The meal was shaping up. It would be a one plate Sunday supper. My favorite. Here is how it rolled.
Turn on oven to 400 and let it get hot while you start to work. This is when I pour myself a glass of wine. I find cooking immensely relaxing. The wine helps set that mood. We had these big pots of rosemary on the steps down to the beach that did amazingly well over the Winter. I clipped a few big sprigs. Lay the whole rosemary stems on the bottom of a baking dish. Lay chicken breasts on top of those. Salt & pepper liberally. Cut up your lemon in small pieces and scatter around the chicken. Liberally dose the whole lot with extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil, lemon juices and rosemary are going to flavor the heck out of the chicken and also create a bit of a sauce you are going to add to the pasta once all is done for extra flavor. Put the chicken in the oven and bake away until the internal temp of the chicken is 160 to 165. Around 45 minutes depending on the thickness of the breasts. I could not live without a stick-in thermometer. I find it impossible to eyeball the doneness of meat. The thermometer takes all the guessing out of it. When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and cover the entire dish with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
While the chicken was in the oven, I did more than just drink wine. Insert smiling face. Cut up the Romanesco into bite sized pieces as well as the onion. Scatter both on a baking sheet and sprinkle with EVOO and S&P. This pan can go into the same oven while the chicken is cooking. Check often, moving things around while you check to insure even cooking and browning. Most likely done in 30 minutes, so it will be finished before the chicken. Which is fine. Take out and set on the counter. These don’t have to be hot when you serve the pasta.
In those 10 minutes the chicken is resting cook the pasta. Check package instructions. Save a bit of the pasta water. Drain pasta. While that was cooking away, add half a stick of butter (this serves 4) to a really large handled pot on the stovetop. You want the butter to cook down and brown. Stay with this. It can go South quite quickly. Once the butter has developed a nice golden brown, turn off the heat and take off that burner. Almost there.
Take chicken breasts and slice. Set aside. To the big pan with brown butter add the pasta, a bit of the juices from the chicken pan, and a really big handful of freshly grated Parmesan. Toss all together. If you want it saucier, add a bit of the pasta water so it is to your liking. Then add the Romanesco and onions along with the chicken and toss again. Plate all. Put another bit of Parm on top. Done. It was a bit of work, but it is really good and so worth it. Enjoy. Enjoy.
There they were, in all of their green spiky glory. Romanesco. On my Saturday morning walk-about the Pike Place Market, I walked up to a gloriously visual display of Romanesco at Frank’s. I had seen them in the past, but this time they really caught my attention. “I can do this, I can cook one of those” was my thought. Roasting it would be the way to go. I have taken to roasting just about every kind of vegetable–this unique vegetable creature would be no exception. So I did. And it was unbelievably good.
Break off the florets. Lay on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a healthy dose of salt. Mix around to evenly coat. Roast in a 400 degree oven until the tips have started to brown. Move things around mid-process to cook evenly. This method works with tons of different veg, and could not be easier.
The sign at Frank’s called them cauliflower. A quick Google search to learn more about Romanesco was a tad confusing, but I think I figured it out. Europeans call it broccoli and here in the US we call it cauliflower. I think it is all the same thing? Please let me know if that is incorrect thinking. Either way, cauliflower or broccoli, it was incredibly tasty. And looked cool. A winning combo.