It's Romanesco cauliflower season and a beautiful way to serve it is roasted whole with a Middle Eastern inspired sauce made with labne, tahini, apricots with fresh mint, coriander and chives!
What is Romanesco Cauliflower? Romanesco cauliflower is a brassica (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, choy sum and turnip) first seen in Italy. Romanesco looks like a combination of cauliflower and broccoli and for this reason people call it Romanesco cauliflower or Romanesco broccoli. It's flavour too is like a cross between the two although the texture is crunchier than cauliflower once cooked. It's also a beautiful vegetable with its gorgeous fractal patterns and like broccoli or cauliflower, it can be steamed or roasted.
How To Pick Romanescos: look for firm, dark green, unwilted leaves and bright green and firm spikes and avoid ones with discolouration. The leaves often give away the age of the romanesco and for this reason avoid purchasing romanescos without the leaves.
The key to roasting a whole Romenesco: is to trim as much of the core out as possible. You will need a sharp knife and flip the romanesco upside down just cut out as much of the core as you can while keeping it whole. Also microwaving it cuts down on the time roasting it as it can take a long time to roast a whole one!
Can I use regular cauliflower? Yep, absolutely! Romanesco cauliflower can be hard to find and this works just as well with regular cauliflower. The cauliflower will be softer than the romanesco and will caramelise more. Although I love the appearance of romanesco, I think roasted cauliflower is my preference taste wise because of the caramelisation.
Careful eating raw brassicas: Eating raw cruciferous vegetables is fine and preserves nutrients but just avoid it if you have hypothyroidism.
The sauce is a result of the end of the week and the day before shopping. It's a bit strange but it's also delicious! I'm sure that that is how some of the craziest but most delicious recipes came about. I hope you'll give this recipe a go!
It has been a while since I've done an In My Kitchen hosted by the lovely Sherry from Sherry's Pickings but this month I've got some interesting things to share with you apart from my romanesco cauliflower of course (is it weird that I got super excited when I saw it in my vege box?).
The first thing I have to show you are these noodles. They're the jajangmyeon Korean Chinese noodles with chunjang or black bean sauce. These were pretty much like the ones I had at Yang Tz but they were a bit saltier. I enjoyed them but I woke up the next morning really thirsty so I think there was a lot of salt in them.
The next items are from a shopping trip I did with Monica in Eastwood. I bought the pancakes as a food gift for Laura. "I'm attracted to these," I said to Monica as I stared at the fat buns with oozy filling and she agreed. The other items are crispy Korean seaweed sheets for an upcoming recipe and the hot chicken dumplings were sadly very disappointing. They were spicy but the dumplings were fairly empty-like an empty purse (and nothing like the picture). The spicy tofu tofu was delicious though!
This bread was from a trip to Jugiong (story to come very soon!). The bread at The Sir George was amazing. I loved the plain sourdough but get a look at that fruit loaf! Definitely super fruity. I had it toasted with lots of butter and white pumpkin jam.
The last pic is from the same trip where we did a bit of antiquing. The first section I always head to in a vintage store is the kitchen wares because I'm always looking for photography props. Look at these gorgeous knives? People often look for sets of items but I'm happy with just 1 of everything and that way they tend to be less expensive too! Win win :)
So tell me Dear Reader, do you get excited by interesting produce? Have you cooked with or eaten romanesco cauliflower? Do you like buying antiques?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Whole Baked Romanesco Cauliflower
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40-90 minutes
- 1 small romanesco cauliflower (or regular cauliflower)
- 80ml/3flozs. oil
- 150g/5ozs. labne
- 60g/2ozs. tahini
- 50g/1.7ozs. mayonnaise
- 5 dried apricots, chopped
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 1.5 teaspoons curry powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Small handful of mint, coriander and chives
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and trim the base of the romanesco and cut out as much of the central woody core while keeping it whole (I leave the leaves on). Wash well. Brush with half of the oil and place in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of water and microwave for 10 minutes (this is just to speed up softening it). Brush with the remaining oil and roast on a parchment lined tray for 20-30 minutes or until a knife can slip in to the base. If you don't want to microwave it roast it for 1 1/4 to 1.5 hours (more if your romanesco is very large). Season with salt and pepper.
Step 2 - Process the labne, tahini, mayonnaise, apricots, apricot jam and curry powder and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread some of this mixture on a serving plate and place cauliflower on top. Add herbs on top of the labne and serve with a sharp knife.