This is a Romanesco cauliflower. I came across it in Booths (posh supermarket – northern version of Waitrose) the other day and it was on special. The last one of these I saw, in another supermarket, it was on special. Romanesco cauliflowers are rather striking, as vegetables go, but I guess that people don’t know what to do with them. It was only 69p, so I took the bait.
And doesn’t this Romanesco cauliflower look amazing? It’s like something out of Dr Seuss or sci-fi. Apparently it is also a geek’s dream:
The inflorescence (the bud) has an approximate self-similar character, with the branched meristems making a logarithmic spiral. The shape could be described as fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral. This self-similar pattern continues at several smaller levels. (Wikipedia)
When I started looking for recipes, I found loads online. The one that kept jumping out was a traditional and super-easy Italian recipe. My version is below:
Easy Romanesco cauliflower recipe
1. Wash and chop into florets, as you would with “regular” cauliflower or broccoli.
2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees centigrade.
3. Toss florets in a bowl with a splosh of olive oil (I used a couple of tablespoons), a couple of cloves of slice garlic, salt, pepper and a handful of grated Parmesan. If you don’t have Parmesan or Grana Padano, any strong hard cheese will do (mature cheddar, for example).
4. Spread onto an oven tray and roast for about 20-25 minutes. Serve piping hot.
Seriously, that’s all there is to it. Much easier than regular cauliflower cheese! It tastes surprisingly tender and delicious: the cheese gives it that little kick, and Romanesco has none of the bitterness or sourness that broccoli and cauliflower can sometimes have.
I served this as a side dish, with a salad and grilled sardines. I recommend that if you see a Romanesco cauliflower on special in your local shop or supermarket, don’t be shy! Give it a try.