Tagliatelle con Broccolo Romanesco

It is actually becoming difficult to describe how wonderful and delicious our Monday Pasta is…  Me.  The guy who can talk all day – is having trouble coming up with words to describe light-as-a-feather hand-made pasta with a couple of simple ingredients.

But I tell ya, I’m gonna have fun trying!

What started out as a bit of a lark has turned into a real learning experience for both of us.  We both grew up on the heavy southern Italian red sauce – with lots of beef and pork, meatballs and sausages.  I absolutely love it.  But all of a sudden, there are a bazillion ways to dress pasta – with just a couple of ingredients.  Now, restraint has never been a word I would say, see, or hear in a kitchen, but these dishes are all about restraint.  They’re about a couple of ingredients standing on their own.

Tonight’s pasta was a prime example.  Cauliflower, anchovies, dried chiles, a garlic clove, and a can of tomatoes.  I could taste every flavor, yet not one overpowered another.  The balance was unbelievable and another perfect learning experience for the king of culinary excess.

And Victor has the pasta-making down to a science.  It’s uncanny what he is able to do with a couple of eggs and a cup of flour.  Unbelievable.

So here’s another fantastic Monday Night Pasta Dish… With more to come!

Tagliatelle con Broccolo Romanesco

Tagliatelle with Romanesco Cauliflower and spicy tomato sauce

  • 2 ½ lbs cauliflower (preferably Romanesco)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 flat anchovy fillets
  • ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes in juice
  • 1 lb Tagliatelle or other long pasta
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut cauliflower into 1 inch wide florets. Cook florets in the boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Reserve water, transfer cauliflower to a colander to drain, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking.

In a large, high sided skillet with a lid, combine garlic, oil, anchovies and pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and juices (I break up the tomatoes), bring to a simmer then add cauliflower. Gently simmer sauce, covered, stirring once or twice for about 20 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken a bit. Meanwhile return the water to a boil.

Five minutes before sauce is ready, cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta and transfer to a large service bowl. Immediately add sauce and parsley, toss to combine. Serve immediately with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

The pasta is a total key-player in these dishes.  If you can make it, all the better.  if you can’t, at least get the best fresh pasta you can find.  And if you can’t get fresh, the best packaged.  And if the best packaged is a store-brand, well… go for it, anyway!

Tagliatelle

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Coarse sea salt

Special equipment: parchment or waxed paper

Instructions

On a clean work surface, mound flour and form a well in the center. Add eggs and egg yolks to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolks and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead for 10 minutes. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 3 pieces. Cover 2 pieces with plastic wrap. Flatten remaining dough piece so that it will fit through the rollers of a pasta machine.

Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine.

Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting, one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until pasta sheet is scant 1/16 inch thick.

Cut sheet in half widthwise; dust both sides of sheets with flour. Layer sheets between floured pieces of parchment or wax paper. Cover with paper and repeat with remaining dough.

With the short end of 1 pasta sheet facing you, loosely fold up sheet, folding sheet over two or three times from short ends toward the center. With a large chefs knife, cut folded sheet into ribbons, a scant 1/4 inch wide. Unroll strips and lightly dust with flour; spread on a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pasta sheets.

To cook the tagliatelle, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with sauce. (If serving with Ragu all Bolognese, use 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of the sauce.)

It’s worth buying a pasta roller.  Really.

Oh… and just as an aside…  I actually went out and purchased 2 cans of San Marzano canned tomatoes.  DOP Italy, the whole bit.  I’m going to play heretic here, but neither of us saw them as worth three times more than our normal canned store-brand plums.  Yes, they’re good, but our fresh-from-the-garden plums are better.