Pecorino Piacentinu is a sheep's milk cheese spiked with wild saffron and studded with whole black peppercorns. It is made in the ancient city of Enna in central Sicily, using very traditional methods. The 9 lb wheels are magnificent, bearing the marks of the wicker baskets in which they are aged. It is a fairly salty yet mild-flavored table cheese, until one bites into the whole peppercorns. When the cheese melts, the aroma of saffron kicks in. I omit the use of salt and pepper in the final baking, as the cheese does the trick for both.
- 2 lb broccolini
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large shallots, sliced
- 2 1/2 oz/ Pecorino Piacentinu cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Using a small sharp paring knife, trim the broccolini of its tough outer membrane starting with the base and peeling up toward the florets. Bring plenty of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the trimmed broccolini and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked but still very firm. Drain and lay the broccolini out flat to help them cool down and prevent them from overcooking.
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots and saute over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until deeply caramelized and crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Grease a large gratin dish or baking sheet/tray with 2 tbsp of the oil. Lay the cooked and cooled broccolini in the pan and scatter the crispy shallots on top. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and then the bread crumbs. Finally, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the surface is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and serve.
Print this recipe