BROCCOLI + CAULIFLOWER…SORTOF…ROMANESCO
Similar to broccoli, somewhat like cauliflower, but Grinch-ish green, with a hint of veggie sweetness, it’s called Romanesco. Like a little Christmas tree farm gone awry, you might be tempted to pass it over in the cruciferous section of the vegetable bin. Nestled in-between the broccoli and cabbages, and glaringly different looking, M2 referred to it as alien. Are we eating the alien for dinner tonight, she asked, when she saw it sitting by the sink.
OPT FOR SIMPLE SEASONING
Having not cooked it but once, I opted for a simple seasoning with olive oil, salt and pepper. Instead of roasting at a high heat, as one might do with root vegetables, a lower longer bake seemed in order. The points are not delicate, but lack the surface area like a cauliflower to be able to withstand so much intensity in the oven. One baking surprise was that it had to bake for quite some time to get soft enough through to the core. But presentation of the piece as a whole was more important than rushing the cooking time. Quartered or smaller pieces would have sped up the process, but eliminated the wow factor of an alien-like vegetable gracing the table.
While not seasonal, Romenesco is not a staple of the vegetable section quite yet. Search it out, it is worth the effort or ask the produce manager if they carry it and when. Substitute it in any recipe that calls for broccoli or cauliflower. The first go round, I would suggest a simple seasoning so that you become familiar with the subtle taste. Tomatoes and shallots would be a next step; a heavy cheese sauce would drown the sweet undertones of this vegetable. Add pasta, cut into tiny pieces and use as a base for grilled chicken, just keep the little points intact. After all, they are what make this vegetable stand out.
- 1 head Romenesco
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 325°F/165°
Remove the outer leaves of the Romenesco and cut the bottom of the stalk. It may be quite hard.
Make sure bottom is flat enough the stand on end.
Place in a small baking dish.
Drizzle olive oil over the top.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake until soft enough to cut through the core.
If it starts to brown too much, cover with foil until the last few minutes of cooking.
Remove foil and cook for 5 minutes or so to crisp the points.
Slice or cut into quarters to serve.
This one has a fun presentation when left whole. We brought it to the table in the baking dish. Another reason to own nice bakeware-can serve straight from the cooking vessel.