Last Saturday at Broadway Market I saw Romanesco broccoli for sale (here it’s just called “Romanesco”). Being a sucker for stimulating sides and sundries, I naturally gravitated toward it.
Romanesco is more closely related to cauliflower than it is to broccoli, but its taste is sweeter and more flavorful than run-of-the-mill cauliflower. Besides this, it looks neat. It is namely famous for the naturally-occuring fractal patterns formed by the tiny buds on its florets.
As for cooking, you can treat this similarly to cauliflower. It goes well with sharp cheeses, cream sauces, garlic and pepper. When preparing, take care to snip off the florets rather than cutting through the center of the flower so that the shapes are preserved. Also, steam or saute rather than boiling so that the green color doesn’t fade.
Romanesco with parmesan and chili
Ingredients (for 2 people):
1 large head of Romanesco broccoli
1 knob of butter (1-2 tbs)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 red chilis, chopped
1 cup parmesan, grated
Sea salt to taste
Prepare the Romanesco by removing the large green leaves around the flower. Then, trim the florets at their bases, chopping the larger ones into halves. This take a while but is worth the effort: you end up with little florets the shape of pine-cones that look great when cooked and served.
Next, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, taking care not to burn it. Add the chopped florets, coat them in the butter, add a tablespoon of water and a healthy pinch of salt and seal the pan, steaming the florets for around 7 minutes. Remove the top from the pan and add the chopped chilis and garlic. Saute this mixture over medium-high heat until the Romanesco crisps slightly, stirring constantly so as not to burn the garlic.
Just before serving, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over the dish. Serve hot as a side dish with pork or fish.