January 19, 2022
Move over, rib-eye. Biting into a thick, roasted, sizzling Romanesco slice with olive oil, spices and dotted with pistachio makes for a mouthwatering and satisfying main course. The tomato-based sauce is like a rich curry — drizzle it generously over the Romanesco.
With its characteristic chartreuse color, cone-shaped florets and branched meristems making up a fractal spiral, Romanesco looks like an elaborate work of art. Tastewise, it’s somewhere between a broccoli and cauliflower, just more deeply flavorful. Nutritionally, it’s from the brassica family, rich in vitamins C and K and dietary fiber. Do give it a try — your body will thank you.
Serves 3 to 4
1 large head Romanesco
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios, for garnish
Herb leaves (cilantro, mint or parsley) for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 to 12 curry leaves
Pinch of asafetida
1/2 cup minced white onions
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, divided
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 tablespoon ginger puree
1 teaspoon sea salt
To roast the Romanesco_ Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the Romanesco in half lengthwise, removing the bottom center inedible part. Then carefully slice again into 1-inch thick pieces. You may end up with just 2 or 3 proper “steak”-size pieces. Spread them on a greased baking pan and place the smaller florets around the larger pieces. Sprinkle with salt and fennel and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil, turn the temperature down to 350°F and place the pan back in the oven. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the florets are slightly charred and cooked through. To serve, sprinkle with a touch of chili powder, pistachios, and herbs.
To make the sauce_ Over high heat, warm the olive oil in a medium-size saucepan. Pop the mustard seeds and fry the curry leaves and asafetida. Immediately, add the minced onions and cook on high heat for 5 minutes or until the onions have sweated, then turn the heat down and continue cooking the onions until translucent and golden brown — this should take another 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of the chile powder, and salt. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the coconut milk, ginger puree, and 1 cup of water. Raise the heat to high and bring the whole mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it rest. Sprinkle the remaining chili powder over the sauce for garnish.
This preparation can be made with cauliflower or with broccoli; however with broccoli, reduce the cooking time to maintain the bright green color.
For a nondairy option, use ghee or butter instead of olive oil and heavy cream instead of coconut milk.
Romanesco is in season in Texas. It is available at the Urban Harvest farmers market through the end of January.
December 02, 2022