Romanesco is that crazy, green spiky looking thing you've been afraid to buy. Don't be afraid. I'm afraid of lots of things (e.g. the ocean, the Thriller video, immense mechanical things like planes and ships, etc.)** and I still buy it. Related to broccoli and cauliflower, romanesco has a milder flavor than it's cousins, and a firm, crunchy texture. You're gonna love it.
**Sadly, this is all true.
This makes 1 pound of dough. Enough for 4 people.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water (plus more as needed a teaspoon at a time)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional for color)
In a big bowl, mix together the flours, salt and turmeric (if using). Make a well in the middle, and add the olive oil and 1/2 cup water. Mix it together with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together into a shape approaching a ball. This is where I switch to my built in mixing tool...my hand. You want to get all of that flour to absorb into the dough ball. It will probably get too dry to accomplish this, and that is when you'll add more water, a teaspoon at a time, just until all of the flour is absorbed by the ball, and the ball is firm, and slightly moist, but not sticky. Knead it for a minute or so, then cover it with a damp towel, and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.
To shape the pasta, it is helpful to have a pasta machine to roll it out thinly, but a little elbow grease and a rolling pin on a floured surface will work too. Get the sheet of pasta to about 1/16 of an inch or whatever looks good to you. For length, I like my ribbons of pappardelle to be about 8 to 10 inches long. I might even trim them a bit to make them uniform. See?
Now that your pasta is ready, here's the recipe!
Serves 4 (the pictures you see below are of two servings, so don't freak out)
Fresh Pappardelle and Lemon Caper Romanesco
6 cups romanesco florets (about 1 average-sized head)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon before squeezing and set the zest aside for garnish)
1 tablespoon finely chopped italian parsley
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
healthy pinch chili flakes
1 tablespoon capers, drained (not rinsed)
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth, warm or at room temperature
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil to medium. Add the romanesco, a pinch of salt, and a couple grinds of pepper. Let it cook, untouched for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on one side. Then toss and cook another 2 minutes.