real life test kitchen: 10 minute capellini romanesco


Last summer, Mary wrote about romanesco (or broccoli romanesco), and it got everyone buzzing. Well, it’s in season again ! Hooray! Time to bust out the anchovies (yes, anchovies) and get the pasta water boiling! This dish is something I make year-round that I call “peasant pasta”, with the basic framework always the same (garlic + bacon + anchovy + chile flake + lemon): I just change up the veggies seasonally. In fall, I’ll throw in quartered brussels sprouts. In winter, ribbons of dark green kale. But my favorite version, that comes in summer — when it’s romanesco season. It’s cruciferous sweetness and firm texture lend a satisfying bite when mingled with the delicate capellini. The sauce is impossibly simple, and comes together in as long as it takes to get a pot of water boiling. And it has anchovies. And anchovies make everything taste like magic. Trust me on this. If you’re scared, use just one fillet. But if you’re like me, you’ll toss in the whole can. — Megan B. Click for Capellini Romanesco!

Capellini Romanesco (or peasant pasta)

Serves 4

1/2 lb pasta
1 1lb head of romanesco, trimmed of leaves and stalk and cut into florets
2 strips of bacon (or pancetta) cut into matchsticks, or lardons
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lemon
1 2 oz can of anchovies in olive oil (use less if you’d prefer)
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil
grated pecorino romano or parmesan to finish

Place a large pot of water over high heat and season well with salt. Place a large wide skillet over medium heat and toss in bacon. Once some of the fat has rendered off, toss in the anchovies and stir, breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the anchovies “melt”, toss in the garlic and chile flakes, stirring frequently. Once the garlic just starts to turn golden, toss in the romanesco (your water should be boiling at this point) and start the capellini in the water. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Juice the lemon into the skillet, stirring to loosen up any browned bits in the pan. Take a ladle of the pasta water and pour it into the skillet. Remove the sauce from the heat, and drain the pasta once the timer is done. Toss with the sauce, drizzle with olive oil to finish, and top with lots of grated cheese.

From our partners

Yayyy! I got a couple heads of this while I was in Seattle a few weeks ago and hauled them home to Chicago. My husband (still fiance then!) wasn’t too overjoyed, but he ate it roasted & herbed up with other veggies. It was yum & I was so excited to try it out finally!

Sarah L.

oh wow. you just might have motivated me to finally start cooking for fun again!

Sadly, it’s still not in season in my neck of the woods. Probably another couple of months for me in dry, hot California. But I’ll be filing away this recipe for next time.