Broccoli From Another Planet

Romanesco Broccoli In Season in New York.
Photo: Kenneth Chen

Imagine a head of broccoli as envisioned by Jerry Garcia and you have the Romanesco, a variety that looks like the psychedelic understudy for the lead in Little Shop of Horrors. If only its season lasted a little longer—look for it over the next few weeks at the Van Houten Farms stand at Union Square—you could hang Christmas ornaments on it. Funky looks aside, it’s equally striking sautéed and tossed with pasta, as this satisfying dish from 50 Carmine’s Sara Jenkins demonstrates.

Sara Jenkins’s Maccheroncini With Romanesco

1⁄4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups Romanesco broccoli florets
1⁄4 cup pitted Gaeta olives
1 tablespoon capers, desalted
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 anchovy filets
1 pound dried pasta (Setaro, available at Buon Italia, is a good brand)
Salt and pepper

Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

(1) Fry bread crumbs in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown and set aside. Brown the florets over high heat in the melted butter and olive oil.
(2) Add the olives, capers, garlic, and anchovies until slightly crisp, and lightly stir until anchovies are broken up. Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
(3) Drain, toss with sauce and bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.
Serves four.

Broccoli From Another Planet