If you whisper “what’s that?” to Marco very quickly and excitedly, he goes nuts. He bounds up to the livingroom window and looks up and down the street growling and wuffing ready to protect us from those crazy neighbourhood cats or the odd buggy wielding mother. It’s a habit we shouldn’t encourage really but I couldn’t help but laugh this weekend when David walked into the kitchen and spotted the above vegetable. “Whassat?” he asked loudly and Marco went mental.
Fair question though. Romanesco do look odd with their strange geometric patterns and almost luminous green colouring. If martians had veg, I reckon they’d look like this.
In actual fact, romanesco do not have an intergalactic ancestry; they are part of the brassica family and can best be described as a funky cross between brocolli and cauliflower. As a fan of both of these vegetables and as someone who appreciates pretty food, I am always excited to find a romanesco on sale. More often than not, it ends up being cooked in the following way.
A fabulous end for a fabulous veg, I think.
Romanesco with Coriander and Chilli (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey)
(serves four as a side dish – two as a main)
1 large head of romanesco or brocolli or cauliflower
Large thumb of ginger, chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
1 tblspn ghee
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 hot chilli, chopped
Big handful of coriander, chopped roughly
1 tspn cumin
1 tblspn coriander
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste
- Cut the romanesco into florets, halving any particularly large ones. Rinse and set aside.
- Whizz the ginger, garlic and turmeric in a blender with a little water to create a paste.
- Heat the ghee over a medium-high heat and add the ginger paste. Stir and cook constantly for 5 minutes.
- Add the chilli and coriander. Cook for another minute.
- Add cauliflower and the rest of the spices and lemon juice. Stir well to combine then add 30 mls of water.
- Cook over a high heat for a few more minutes then reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pan. Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season very carefully and serve.