Cast Iron

Romanesco with Pancetta and Parmesan

October  3, 2010
Author Notes

I use cauliflower's more delicate, beautiful Italian cousin romanesco in this recipe inspired by a dish at Jody Adams' Cambridge, MA restaurant Rialto. A small local cauliflower would work, too. In Cambridge we can get romanesco at Formaggio's Kitchen or some farm stands. I bet in New York it's easier to find -- at the Union Square Greenmarket, for example. Because it's not grown commercially in this country it's only available in late September and October. —franny

  • Serves 4
  • 1 head of romanesco or small local cauliflower
  • 1/4 pound thinly cut pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup excellent quality parmesan grated
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
In This Recipe
  1. Cut the romanesco into chunky florets.
  2. Blanch the florets in rapidly boiling salted water for one minute; plunge immediately into salt water.
  3. Fry pancetta in frying pan (the one you will use for this dish -- cast iron works well) until crisp. Reserve pancetta leaving fat in the pan.
  4. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and the blanched romanesco florets to the pancetta drippings and saute for five minutes.
  5. Put the romanesco mixture and reserved pancetta in an oven proof dish. Mix well with all of the parmesan cheese, except one teaspoon saved for the top. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and last teaspoon of parmesan.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for thiry minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, sprinkle with chopped parsley and enjoy it.

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