Pic of Sicilian roast romanesco & orzo pasta

Sicilian roast romanesco & orzo pasta

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Vegetarian mains

Sicilian roast romanesco & orzo pasta

Serves 2 40 min
The combination of chilli, pine nuts, lemon and dried fruit is found in traditional Sicilian cuisine - the influence of trade across the Mediterranean from the East. It gives a sweet-sour flavour. We’re using Romanesco, a cousin of the cauliflower. With spiral fractals, it roasts brilliantly. Try and get a little colour on it for flavour. Served with a risotto-like dish using little orzo pasta shapes, simmered in a garlicky white wine stock with leek and spinach. The starch from the orzo thickens the stock, giving it a creamy-like texture.

Cook's notes

Keep any good-looking outer Romanesco leaves, as they can also be roasted.


  • 20g currants
  • 20g pine nuts
  • 1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways & cut into thin shreds
  • 1 Romanesco, chopped into bite size pieces, using the stalk too
  • olive oil, for roasting
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 50ml white wine
  • ½ tbsp bouillon powder
  • 150g orzo pasta
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 15g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped into thin rings – add to taste
  • ½ a lemon, finely zested
  • ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Image of Sicilian roast romanesco & orzo pasta


Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 20 min
  • Step 1

    1. Preheat your oven to 190˚C/Gas 5. Put the currants in a mug and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
  • Step 2

    2. In a large frying pan, toast the pine nuts for a few minutes, until lightly colouring. Set them aside.
  • Step 3

    3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the frying pan. Start gently frying the leek, while you continue. Add a splash of water if it looks like catching at any stage - you want it to soften but not to burn it, as it will taste bitter.
  • Step 4

    4. Toss the romanesco (but not the leaves) in a roasting tin in a little oil to lightly coat. Season well. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until lightly colouring, tossing in the leaves halfway through.
  • Step 5

    5. Stir the garlic and the fennel seeds into the leek and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Step 6

    6. Add the wine and let it bubble away and reduce down.
  • Step 7

    7. Stir in the bouillon, orzo and 700ml of water from the kettle. Bring to a low boil. Cook for approx. 9-10 minutes or so, while you continue, until the liquid is almost all absorbed and the orzo is tender. Stir regularly. Add a splash more water if needed; you’re looking for a risotto-like consistency.
  • Step 8

    8. When the orzo is almost ready, stir in the spinach, handful by handful, until wilted. Season to taste.
  • Step 9

    9. Remove the roasted Romanesco from the oven. Toss with the pine nuts, drained currants, half the parsley, then some chilli, lemon zest, salt and pepper, a little balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of good olive oil, all to your taste.
  • Step 10

    10. Serve the orzo topped with the Romanesco mixture, sprinkled with remaining parsley

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