Christmas Tree oh Christmas Tree

No, this is not my Christmas tree. It may be a recession, but Christmas trees aren't something to skimp on. After all, it has to be big enough for Santa to fit my gifts under. And while small gifts can be great, this year my wish list consisted of more practical items such as a food processor and a dutch oven - no, not that kind of dutch oven. Sick.

The above picture is of a romanesco, or Roman Cauliflower, that I picked up at the Greenmarket last week. It's sort of a blend between broccoli and a cauliflower and can be prepared and cooked similarly to them. Steam and finish with a squirt of lemon, roast in the oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, or saute it with garlic and oil and use as a side dish. I chose to toss it into a simple pasta dish, where it's woody taste would be complimented by the citrus of lemons. I found the recipe in Rachel Ray's magazine, though I added my own twist by adding some frozen petite peas to bulk up the health factor and squeezing lemon over the top of the dish, rather than more cheese, to finish. Give it a whirl.

Romanesco Broccoli and Rigatoni

Salt and black pepper
1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 head romanesco broccoli cut into florets
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2/3 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Optional: handful of frozen peas - add along with the romanesco

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a couple of ladlefuls of the pasta cooking water.

2.While the pasta is working, in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the wine for 1 minute, then the chicken stock. Add the broccoli, lemon peel, rosemary and crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

3.In a serving bowl, toss the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, cooked vegetables, cheese and nuts for a minute. Season with salt and black pepper and a squirt of lemon over the top.

My actual Christmas Tree:

Happy Holidays!!
- The Heat


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