i go to the farmers market every week with a list and an open mind. i'm usually planning on a couple of recipes for the week, and the other nights are to be filled with a tbd market surprise. inevitably something new and strange makes it home with us.
one such market discovery is romanesco. this gorgeous vegetable which rob and i call the "fractal fruit," abandoning accuracy in favor of alliteration, is similar to cauliflower in texture and taste. its architecture of spirals built of spirals built of spirals is absolutely hypnotizing.
best of all, it can be carved into a seussian tree. oh, to live in a grove of these!
it's terrific roasted with plenty of olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. it also makes a damn fine gnocchi sauce.
gnocchi with romanesco and bacon serves 2
1/2 lb prepared gnocchi 1/2 head romanesco, chopped 1/2 cup white wine 1 cup chicken (or veg) broth 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese 3 slices of bacon, chopped
blanch romanesco for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. drain and reserve.
cook chopped bacon in skillet over medium heat to desired crispness, remove from pan and reserve. drain all but 1 Tbsp bacon fat from pan and return to heat. deglaze pan with wine, scraping up browned bits, and reduce 5 minutes. add broth and reduce 5-10 minutes. add cream and reduce slightly, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
add blanched romanesco to sauce and cover, cooking 10 minutes. stir in parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
cook gnocchi in boiling salted water until it floats. drain, and pan fry gnocchi lightly in butter. (frying is optional-- my latest gnocchi batch is a little loose and needs this step to firm it up. plus, i like the texture of the fried bits.)
serve gnocchi with sauce, bacon, and grated parmesan cheese.