Broccoli romano, also known as broccoli romanesco, is probably my favorite vegetable (although artichokes are a close second). It’s not easy to find it here in the states, but occasionally I see it at farmers’ markets or even in my supermarket. When that happens, I don’t hesitate to buy it, even though it’s a bit pricey.
Aside from the taste, which is more like cauliflower than broccoli, it’s just a beautiful vegetable that is an exquisite example of fractals (go look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls – [if it still exists] – I guess I should say look that up in Wikipedia!)
In any event, even if you can’t find broccoli romano, you can make this recipe using cauliflower, which is easy to find in the markets.
First cut off the leaves and trim the stem, then slice into pieces about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick.
Smear with some good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place it in the oven at high heat while you chop up herbs and other goodies for the salsa verde.
Flip the “steaks” over half way through cooking. If it’s getting too browned, lower the temperature.
Place on a platter then spoon the sauce over it.
Served with some quinoa and glazed carrots, it made for a colorful and delicious vegetarian dinner. For once, I didn’t miss the real meat.
1/4 cup olive oil (plus more to brush on surface of broccoli romano)
juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if your lemon is small), plus a small piece of the lemon rind
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. red onion, minced
2 T. capers
fresh parsley, minced (about 3 or 4 T.)
salt, pepperPreheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the broccoli romano – or cauliflower if you can’t find the broccoli romano – into pieces between 1/4″ and 1/2 ” thick. Smear them with olive oil, then sprinkle on some salt and freshly ground pepper.
Place them in the oven for about 15 minutes – flipping over once (and repeating the olive oil, salt and pepper).Take them out of the oven when they feel tender to the fork, or when you can easily pierce them with a knife. Depending on how thick you sliced them, they’ll need more time (or maybe less if they’re thinner than mine).
While they are cooking, make the salsa, by mincing the lemon rind, garlic, onion, capers and parsley. Add the olive oil, plus the lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper and stir everything together. Spoon the salsa verde over the broccoli romano or cauliflower steaks.
A couple of years ago, I was visiting a friend in London and rummaging through her cookbooks when I found this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi. I wanted to make it as soon as I saw it, especially after eating at one of his restaurants there. But it’s like the book that’s sitting on the shelf you never read; or the bolt of fabric in the closet you never get around to sewing into a dress. I forgot about it. The recipe didn’t appear in any of his cookbooks published for the U.S. market. Until now, that is, when I saw it in “Plenty More” – his latest cookbook and one that was gifted to me this week by my niece Keri. My interest in making this delightful recipe was renewed.
Aside from the visual appeal, it tastes terrific, somewhat like a frittata, but with a little more heft from the cup of flour and baking powder in the recipe. It’s got tons of flavor from the turmeric, rosemary and basil too, so don’t leave those out. I would however, add another egg or two next time I make it, (or use less of the vegetable). As you can see from the photo below, I didn’t use cauliflower, but instead used broccoli romano, or broccoli romanesco – my favorite vegetable, another gift I received this week – this time from my son.. It tastes very similar to cauliflower, but you can’t top it for distinct appearance. I’ve posted recipes using it before, so if you’re interested, go to the white search box at the top of the blog and type in the words “broccoli romano.” I can see making this with lots of other vegetables too, including with artichoke hearts – which I’m planning to try next week. Stay tuned.
The first step is to carefully separate the florets and bring them to a boil for about five minutes, then drain.
Line a springform pan with parchment paper, then smear with butter and sesame seeds. The recipe calls for nigella seeds, but I couldn’t find them and used black and white sesame seeds instead.
The batter is on the thick side, so be careful not to break up the florets when mixing everything together. Next time, I plan to use eight or nine eggs instead of the seven called for. I think it will make a little lighter “cake” and give more space between the vegetables.
Still, I loved the way it looked and tasted – not quite a quiche, not quite a frittata, not quite an omelet – but a savory “cake” instead. Ottolenghi says to serve warm, rather than hot. I think it would be good either way (first hand knowledge from having reheated in the microwave). It would also be delicious at room temperature, making it ideal for taking to a picnic or dinner at someone’s house. Serve in medium slices as a side dish, or in large slices with a salad as a main course. Try baking it in a square pan and slice in squares for an hors d’oeuvre.
Either way, it won’t last long and it’ll be one of those recipes you’ll make over and over again and adapt to your liking.
Serves 4 to 6 (I think it serves 8 or more, even as a main course, with a salad on the side- CCL)
• 1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1¼-inch florets (1 lb/450 g)
• 1 medium red onion, peeled (6 oz/170 g)
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
• 7 eggs (scant 1 lb/440 g)
• 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
• 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/3 teaspoons round turmeric
• 5 ounces coarsely grated Parmesan or another mature cheese
• Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
• 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
• 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
• Black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC.
Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.
Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I adore spring and all that comes with it – robins, hyacinths, strawberries and so much more. Summer is also a delight since I love to garden, swim and visit the seashore. The Fall is a stunner here too with glorious foliage, pumpkin stands and apple festivals. But winter calls to me as well, even with the cold weather and barren trees in the Northeast U.S. Aside from transportation problems (like being stuck in Chicago during a snowstorm last weekend), winter presents opportunities for skiing, for hunkering down by the fire with a good book, and for cooking soups, stews and vegetables associated with cold weather, like the three I’m presenting in this post.
This broccoli romanesco is one of them. I admit, it’s not easy to find where I live, so when I saw it last week at the local health food store, I all but clapped my hands in jubilation. It’s something that omnipresent in Italian food markets, but for some reason, it’s not as well known here. I hope that’s about to change. I’ve told you about it before when my blog was fairly new, on a post you can find here, featuring pasta and broccoli romanesco. But this time I wanted to cook it whole and drizzle it with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Nestled into polenta, it made a satisfying vegetarian lunch.
Here’s what it looks like inside. Even though its name is broccoli romanesco, the taste is closer to cauliflower than broccoli.
Beets are another one of my favorites – whether cold in a salad – or warm in a sauce with orange segments. Be warned that the orange segments will turn pink once the beet sauce hits them.
See…..I told ya’. But they’re kind of pretty that way too.
OK, now here’s the morning quiz for you. What’s this vegetable? Trick question.
They look like parsnips, right? Well that would have been a good guess, but they’re not. They’re parsley root – something I had never heard of much less cooked. So naturally I had to try them. The taste is vaguely reminiscent of parsley – but more like a carrot crossed with celery. Apparently, parsley root has lots of salubrious properties. (That means it’s good for you.) It’s a blood purifier, a diuretic, useful in liver and gall bladder problems and helps prevent flatulence (you can look that up yourself.)
I sliced them up like French fries, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and roasted them at a high heat.
Maybe I left them in a bit too long on one side, but they were delicious nonetheless. Who says that French fries have to be made just with potatoes?
Trim the bottom leaves off, then cut a little bit into the core from the bottom, to help it cook more evenly. Place a little water in a saucepan – enough so that it comes up about 1/2 inch. Then place the entire head of the broccoli romanesco into the water. Cover and cook for about five to ten minutes, testing to pierce with a fork. It should not be crunchy, but soft enough to pierce easily. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 T. olive oil with a clove of garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes. Add some salt and pepper, then pour over the head of broccoli romano that you serve over polenta, noodles, or just by itself. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Beets and Orange Sauce
Boil or roast one large beet or two small beets until tender. (To roast, rub with oil and put in a small oven-proof dish at 350 degrees, checking after 45 minutes to see if it’s cooked.) Peel the outer skin off the beet (I do this on a dish, not on my cutting board, since it’s so hard to get the stain off wood, but easy to clean a plate.) Slice the beet. In a small saucepan, place 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 tsp. butter, 2 T. red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar or white vinegar). Add the sliced beets and heat them together with the liquids. In a small cup, mix 1 t. cornstarch with a 2 T. water. Add to the beets and heat until the sauce thickens. If it’s too thick, add more water or some more orange juice. Section one large orange and just before serving, stir them into the warm beets. Warning: If you do this more than a minute or two before serving, the oranges will disintegrate into the sauce.
Parsley Root Fries
Trim the parsley root and peel the outer layer. Slice into matchsticks and place on a cookie sheet. Dribble a little olive oil over them, give them a good shake of salt and pepper, then sprinkle some chopped rosemary over them. Roast at 425 degrees, checking after 5 minutes. Turn them over and roast another 5 minutes, or until browned.