Pasta with Romanesco and Hazelnut

The dish with sole and hazelnut emulsion with romanesco we recently had at a fancy restaurant in Amsterdam was not such a big success because the sole was overpowered by the hazelnut emulsion, but it did inspire me to make this pasta dish because it made me realize that hazelnut and romanesco work very well together. Romanesco is an Italian green variety of cauliflower. If you can’t find it, you could substitute with regular cauliflower. A hazelnut emulsion is basically a warm mayonnaise made with hazelnut oil. I was happy with the result, as also in this pasta dish the combination worked very well and it was a nice variety from other pasta dishes that I make. Because of the nuts it is not really needed to eat a secondo of meat afterwards. And it only takes about 20 minutes to make.



For 2 servings

1 small romanesco (green cauliflower), florets only

150-200 grams (0.33-0.44 lbs) penne pasta

3 Tbsp hazelnuts, chopped

120 ml (1/2 cup) hazelnut oil

3 egg yolks

drop of fresh lemon juice

salt and freshly ground white pepper


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta. Cook al dente according to package instructions. Add the romanesco for the final 5 minutes.

Roast the hazelnuts in the oven at 180C/350F for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, but a bowl over a pot of simmering water over low heat. Add the yolks and beat them lightly.

Keep beating and add the hazelnut oil slowly.

An emulsion will form.

Beat in a small drop of lemon juice.

Add the roasted hazelnuts.

Drain the pasta and romanesco add the end of the cooking time. Add to the hazelnut mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Toss to mix.

Serve immediately on warm plates.

Wine pairing

Many dry Italian white wines have a ‘nutty’ aroma and will work well with the hazelnuts, but for the consistency of the hazelnut emulsion a well-rounded wine is required. Many, but not all, Fiano di Avellino have undergone malolactic fermentation and are therefore more round than those without. We had a Fiano di Avellion that had undergone malo with this dish, and it worked pretty well.

6 thoughts on “Pasta with Romanesco and Hazelnut

  1. Stefan … in Italy at least, “romanesco” means appertaining to Rome, like an adjective. So you would have to call this vegetable “broccolo romanesco” …) i.e. put the noun in too, the actual vegetable … the “broccolo”=. In Rome, we even do away with the ‘esco’ : so the ‘real’ thing around here is … broccolo romano. But enough about terms and language. This pasta looks really yummy and very more-ish! It’s more of a “carbonara”, if you think about it, than a mayo! But no cheese … You are a v.v.v..v. clever cook! Bravo!


    1. Thanks Jo 🙂 Both for the compliment and for pointing out the proper name. Over here it is marketed as “Romanesco”, and it sounded so Italian that I never checked.
      Interesting that it is called “broccolo”, because I think the taste is closer to cauliflower than it is to broccoli.


    1. Thanks Conor. I should have cooked it slightly less (i.e. 5 minutes as written in the recipe, rather than the 8 or so) and then it would have looked better in the plated shot. The romanesco is a very nice representation in nature of a fractal 🙂


  2. First of all, credit to you for taking on the challenge of duplicating a restaurant dish. Even more since you were so successful. It sounds like a great dish, one that would make a fine primo piatto for a holiday diner — and a great after party snack once everyone has left. 😉


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