OK, so a week and a half ago, while contemplating fractal vegetables, I asserted that romanesco is out of season. I should have known better than to make a statement like that, because shortly thereafter I came across a pile of them in a local farm shop. Oops.
So of course I had to buy one! These amazing, alien-looking vegetables are as delicious as they are fun to look at. Although I had no clear plan for my beautiful romanesco, I couldn’t leave it in the shop. Especially when the number of spirals on the head of a romanesco is a Fibonacci number!
Interestingly, there seems to be no clear consensus on what a romanesco actually is. Some say it’s a broccoli, others claim it as a cauliflower. The French call it chou Romanesco, meaning “Romanesco cabbage”, although it doesn’t look much like a cabbage to me. I like its German name the best – they call it a Pyramidenblumenkohl!* In any case, it’s definitely a brassica of some sort. The flavour is somewhere between a broccoli and a cauliflower, slightly sweet, slightly nutty, robust without being overpoweringly ‘cabbagey’. We are big fans of this beautiful and delicious vegetable.
It’s almost a shame to take it to pieces to cook and eat it, although I imagine it would be quite a feat to cook one evenly without dividing it into bits somehow. Fortunately, it’s fractal nature means that each floret is a mini-romanesco! So as you cut it into pieces, it seems to multiply on your kitchen counter. Perhaps it really is an alien life form, and this is part of its plan for world domination. Eek! Just as well we saw it coming and polished it off with some crunchy, buttery, seasoned crumbs. Yum.
I was going to do something altogether more elaborate with this – you can basically do anything you’d do with broccoli or cauliflower (similarly, you can substitute either of them for the romanesco in this recipe, if you can’t get hold of it) – but in the end I opted for this fairly simple treatment which gives this superstar vegetable a chance to shine, both in flavour, and in aesthetics. A single romanesco will serve 4-6 as a side dish.
- 1 medium-large romanesco
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 10g butter
- 15g breadcrumbs
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- Divide the romanesco into florets, and wash thoroughly. Steam the florets for 5-7 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan, and add the crumbs, crushed garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until golden and crispy. Set aside.
- Transfer the steamed romanesco to a serving dish and scatter the crumbs over. Serve.
March’s theme for the Cooking with Herbs challenge is rosemary. Check out all the other lovely recipes (or submit your own) here.
I’m also linking this up to the Cool Cauliflower linky party, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Choclette at Tin and Thyme.