Friday, November 4, 2011

Romanesco three ways

I was recently introduced to this most interesting of vegetables by a lovely vendor at the Jean-Talon Market.  Can you believe the size of those cauliflowers?  He told us that Romanesco comes from Italy, that the Italians use it much like broccoli, that it has a slightly almondy flavor, that people freeze whole heads in order to have them around for the holiday season, and that he was confident that if we bought one we’d be back for more.  

He was right.

< = How fascinating is this thing?

It’s huge and alien and interesting from so many different angles…

It’s like a giant mutant, space vegetable, something that could be seen swimming alongside that three-eyed fish in The Simpsons.  So far we've tried it a few different ways.  

Preparation #1:  Lightly steamed then sautéed with a little olive oil, garlic, and s&p. Served over linguini alongside an arugula salad dressed in lemon, olive oil, and s&p, everything dusted with a bit of pecorino romano.  Do yourself a favor and make this meal as soon as possible.

Preparation #2:  Vegetable soup.  I prepared a basic vegetable soup with a few green lentils and potatoes thrown in for bulk, then added the romanesco at the end, giving it just enough time to soften up without over cooking it.  Like broccoli, you really don’t want to cook it for too long lest it get overly soft.  The soup was hearty and nourishing, and the romanesco definitely added a nice accent. 

Preparation #3:  Last week we went out to lunch at at 715 in Lawrence and had the most delicious pureed cauliflower soup.  Inspired, I thought I’d give it a go but substitute the romanesco for cauliflower.  I sautéed onions and garlic in a bit of butter, then added the romanesco, covered with a light vegetable broth, and simmered until they were soft.  Then I pureed the whole thing with an emersion blender and added a bit of silken tofu to creamy it up a bit.  In hindsight, it would have been better to creamy it up with, well, cream.  Here I garnished it with a drizzle of sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and few tiny florets.  Not too shabby.  It would be nice garnished with some homemade croutons, or some chopped fresh herbs in a drizzle of olive oil.

We've also had good luck just tossing it into a salad raw.  Enjoy!

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