Broccolo romanesco

This amazing whorled broccolo romanesco – a cross between cauliflower and broccoli – was on sale at my local market in November.


It’s almost a shame to take a knife to such a wondrous creation, but here is a soup recipe:

Minestra di broccoli alla Romana is taken from the Lazio section of Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by the redoubtable Anna Gosetti della Salda, published in 1967. Even though it is still a bible for many Italian restauranteurs, its author has never allowed the book to be translated into other languages. The saturated fat in the recipe could be swapped for olive oil to suit more health-conscious modern tastes.

  • one broccolo romanesco 400 g
  • spaghetti 200 g
  • pork rind 100 g
  • lardons 50 g
  • one garlic clove
  • one tbsp lard
  • grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • passata
  • salt and pepper

Cut the broccolo into small florets and then wash. Crush the  garlic clove well into the lardons to make a battuto (a mixture of flavourings such as garlic and rosemary in fat used to form the basis for many Roman dishes  – nowadays it is usually garlic, onions, celery, carrots and parsley fined chopped and cooked in olive oil). Add the battuto to a deep pan with the lard and fry for a few minutes, then add a tablespoon of passata, two cups of water and the broccolo florets. Season with the salt and pepper and mix. Cover the pan and leave the broccolo to simmer over a low heat. Meanwhile, scrape the pork rind well, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for one minute, then drain and cut into strips. Add fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer until nearly done. When the broccolo pieces are still a little al dente, add the rind with the cooking water and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and season if necessary. If there is too little liquid in the pan, add water,  but remember that the soup must be quite thick. Bring back to the boil and add the spaghetti, broken into pieces. Serve with grated cheese.