Romanesco Cauliflower with Pasta …Studies on Mandelbrot Fractals

This preparation of the small ridged rigatoni called rigatoncello is meant to feed a large group of people.  It makes for an ideal party dish.  The romanesco cauliflower used in this pasta dish is one of those marvels of nature that once could only be found in farmers markets, but now many supermarkets sell them, usually in their very young (little) form.  They’re expensive but just so appetizing looking.  They are an example of what mathematical topologists called a Mandelbrot fractal, a geometric shape made up of smaller, identical replicas of itself.  In this preparation they are boiled separately and placed on top of the pasta.  Rigatoncello is a ridged tubular pasta just a little narrower than rigatoni.

Rigatoncello with Sausages and Romanesco Cauliflower
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 romanesco cauliflower (about 1 pound each)
  • 1 ½ pounds mild Italian sausage
  • 1 ½ pounds hot Italian sausage
  • 4 beef marrow bones (about 1 pound) (optional)
  • ¼ pound guanciale or pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 10 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds rigatoncello or rigatoni
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 ½ cups (about 3 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, then salt lightly, and boil the romanesco cauliflower until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside, keeping them warm.
  2. In a large flame-proof casserole, cook the Italian sausages, beef marrow, and guanciale, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they’ve turn color, about 20 minutes. Cut each sausage in half. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking, stirring, until the onion is yellow, about 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato pasta and water and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sausages are very tender, about 30 minutes. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper and cook another 12 minutes. Remove whatever marrow remains in the bones and stir into the sauce. Remove and discard the marrow bones.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, salt abundantly, then cook the pasta until al dente. Drain without rinsing. Transfer the pasta to the casserole with the sausages, add the parsley and cheese, and toss well, while stirring, until all the cheese has melted. Transfer the pasta and sausages to a large platter, or two, place the romanesco cauliflowers on top, cut them into fifths, but maintaining their whole shape and serve.

 

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