Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower...A Reminder of the Past

While I was pulling together all of the ingredients for this dish, I made a very interesting discovery.

I've been preparing to shoot and write this blog for close to 30 years.

In tenth grade we had to present a how-to project, complete with step-by-step instructions.  You know what I chose as my subject? My mom's pasta broccoli dish.

I remember being in the kitchen with Gran Fran, taking pictures with my sister's camera of each and every step of the process. My sister was kind enough to develop and print the photos for me, as she was a big-time college art student at the time. Suffice it to say, I was the only kid in the class who chose a food project, and who bothered to bring a big bowl of the finished product for the class to share.

Fast-forward to this past weekend when I found myself in my local farmer's market and I came across the above specimen of romanesco cauliflower. It took me a long time to take a knife to it, for fear of totally hacking it all to bits and losing the great geometric shapes that make up the whole. I carefully cut into the bottom of the stem and began to take the pieces off the stem. They were firm enough to keep their shape.

I was immediately brought back to my mom's kitchen the moment I put the parboiled romanesco into the hot saute pan to brown. Gran Fran makes very simple food, but with complex flavors. I took some liberties with her original recipe, and added some tuna, spicy italian vinegar pickled peppers and capers. It wasn't exactly like hers, but it sure was close, and it tasted the same as it did 30 years ago.

Like home.

Gluten-Free Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower


  • 1 head Romanesco Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 can Solid White Tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Pasta, cooked (I used gluten-free rice pasta like this one from Tinkyada)
  • 3 Tbsps Capers, drained
  • 4 Pickled Italian Cherry Peppers


  • Boil a large pot of salted water.
  • Chop the peppers into small pieces, removing the stems.
  • Once the water has boiled, add the pasta and a steamer basket on top of the pasta to parboil the romanesco cauliflower.
  • Cook the romanesco for 3 minutes with the lid on.
  • While the pasta/romanesco is boiling, heat a large skillet over high heat.
  • Put the olive oil and the tuna in the saute pan and cook for 1 minute on high heat.
  • Add the parboiled romanesco to the saute pan and cook for five minutes, or until beginning to brown.
  • Put the capers and peppers in with the romanesco and cook for three minutes.
  • Drain the pasta, rinse in cool water and  put in a large bowl.
  • Mix the pasta and the tuna/romaesco mixture together and enjoy!