May 25, 2022
Like broccoli, Romanesco begs for added flavor. And as I walked by these little beauties at the organic Animal Farm table stand this past Saturday, I began to salivate imagining them with a masala made with garlic, local cherry tomatoes, and a fragrant punch of Sichuan peppercorns.
The Sichuan pepper, also known as prickly ash, belongs to the citrus family. It produces a unique but delicious numbing, tingling effect on the tongue and can overpower other flavors — so use with caution. While the Romanesco roasted in the oven, I made the masala on the stovetop; within 30 minutes, we had a delicious dish to eat on its own or as a side.
3 small heads or 1 large head Romanesco (roughly 1 pound total)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 to 12 whole red chiles (such as arbol)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 cups diced cherry or teardrop tomatoes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons unpeeled minced ginger
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the Romanesco heads in half or into large thick slices. Spread them on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with salt, pepper, and sesame oil, cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until they have a golden color at the edges but are still a bright green. Remove and set aside.
In a medium-size sauté pan over high heat, warm sesame oil and pop the cumin seeds. Immediately, add the whole red chiles and garlic followed by the red chili powder, tomatoes and salt. It is important to move fast at this time so as not to burn the whole red chiles, garlic or the red chili powder. Cook the masala over medium heat until the tomatoes are cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. The masala should be a bright red color, remain saucy and not dry.
Turn the heat off and add the Sichuan peppercorns and ginger to the tomato masala. Drizzle over the roasted Romanesco, sprinkle sesame seeds, and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Sichuan peppercorns lose their flavor as they cook, so add them at the end.
The masala can be tossed with other vegetables, such as cauliflower or broccoli, and can also be served cold.
The ginger added at the end adds a tremendous amount of flavor.
December 02, 2022