Romanesco! Nature's Fractal - Brando Cucina Blog at - 295594

Brando Cucina

Romanesco! Nature's fractal 
Jan. 17, 2013 3:11 pm 
Updated: Jan. 18, 2013 10:29 am
Isn't romanesco just cool? If you don't know this veg or haven't eaten it yet, a Romanesco is in the cauliflower family and sort of a cross between a cauliflower and broccoli. I think it might have been first cultivated in Italy actually, but then Italians do like to claim first on lots of stuff when it comes to cooking.  :)

If you've ever had Sicilian cauliflower, which is a rich green color not white and in fact called "brocollo", the romanesco tastes like that. And appearance wise, as you can see from the picture a romanesco is like a fractal which means that it has a pattern that repeats itself whether you look closely or from very far. It's an awesome vegetable and we love to find it at the farmer's market.

An easy way to prepare romanesco besides boiling in water with a little salt and eating it like you would broccoli would be to give a quick stir fry with pine nuts and a bit of chili. Boil the florets in a bit of salted water for a few minutes then remove and rinse under cold water to halt the cooking. Then heat up a bit of oil in a pan, add a little onion, scallions or shallots, garlic, a pinch of peperoncino (or red pepper flakes) and then the romanesco florets. Saute for a few minutes and add roasted pine nuts and a small squeeze of lemon. Yum!

My favorite romanesco prep is to cook it with a short pasta with much of the above. I typically use farfalle or campanelle and throw the romanesco florets in with the pasta and its salted boiling water when there's 5-6 minutes left on the cooking time. In the meantime, in a large saucepan heat up some oil, chopped garlic (1-2 cloves), a pinch of peperoncino (or red pepper flakes) and salt and pepper. Saute until the garlic is golden and then add 2 TBSPs of capers that have been drained well and cook for two more minute. In Sicily you'd use anchovies but I learned to substitute capers from a Giuliano Bugialli tip and I like this better. Drain the pasta and romanesco reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the sauce pan. Throw in 1/2 cup of grated pecorino, 2 TBSP of toasted pine nuts and toss well. Optionally you could also melt 1/2 cup of mascarpone in the pan prior to adding the pasta and also add up to 1/4 cup of toasted bread crumbs. Add some of the reserved pasta water to make a sauce as needed.

Serve and enjoy right away with more grated pecorino.

Romanesco Head
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Romanesco detail
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pasta e romanesco
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Jan. 18, 2013 4:36 am
What an interesting plant, which I've never heard of before, or even seen at the Farmer's market here. I'm not a big fan of cauliflower, but do love broccoli. I'm not sure if it would grow in Florida, and if it does, more than likely a winter vegetable like broccoli is. But the interesting beauty of it would sure spice up the landscape. I'll have to look this one up for next winter in my garden. Thanks for sharing.
Jan. 18, 2013 8:48 am
I have seen this, occasionally. I can't say why I never tried to find out how to use it. Thanks for the information and kick off recipes!
Jan. 18, 2013 10:29 am
A very beautiful vegetable. I have never seen this veggie in Southwestern Colorado.
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