Have you ever cooked with romanesco? Also called romanesco cauliflower or romansco broccoli, it is indeed of the brassica family and looks like a mathematician’s fractal experiment run wild. It’s almost too pretty to eat. But eat it we shall. Romanesco is closer in taste to cauliflower than to broccoli, but milder and nuttier than either.
In this recipe we are first steaming the romanesco florets, then lightly tossing them in a red wine vinaigrette, along with thinly sliced red onion, celery, parsley, capers, and lemon zest. We then leave everything to marinate for a bit, so the dressing seeps in, lightly pickling it. So good! If romanesco is not available where you are, you could easily do the same treatment with cauliflower.
- 2 heads of romanesco (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1/2 large red onion, or one small red onion
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
- 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 anchovy, minced (optional, omit if cooking vegetarian)
- 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
1 Cut the romanesco heads into quarters, stalk to tip. Cut out the tough core and any outside green leaves. Cut again lengthwise. Place into a steamer basket in a pot with about an inch of water. Sprinkle the romanesco florets with a little salt. Bring water to a boil. Cover and steam until just tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove romanesco florets from steamer, place into a bowl, and chill.
2 Thinly slice the celery. Thinly slice the red onion, across the grain. Place the red onion slices in a bowl and cover with water. This will take the onion-y edge off the onion, making it easier to eat raw in the salad.
3 Smash the whole clove of garlic (not cut, just smash with the flat side of a chef's knife) and place in the bottom of a small bowl. Add the vinegar and salt, stir to dissolve the salt. Add the minced anchovy if using. Then whisk in the olive oil.
4 Break up the wedges of romanesco into smaller chunks of florets. Place into a large serving bowl. Add celery, onions (drained of the water), parsley, capers, and lemon zest. Remove the garlic clove from the dressing and add dressing to the romanesco salad. Toss to coat with the dressing. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour. Even better overnight.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to serve.