Though we are still getting dumps of snow, spring IS in the air. There are subtle signs. The snow quality is far wetter. The duration it stays on the ground is fleeting, immediately melting on the pavement signaling enough warmth that winter is no longer welcome. Most importantly the temperature between the snow showers feels different. As though it’s striving to overturn the frigid months we are all ready to bid goodbye.
A sure sign of spring is new produce popping up in stores. Those first greens of spring and other new produce nudging the familiar root vegetables into a smaller space at the store let us know the seasons are changing. One of my favorite produce items has now begun to resurface; Romanesco.
Do you feel you’ve landed in outer space? Isn’t it fantastic? Romanesco must be the most unique vegetable on the planet with it’s architecturally intriguing structure and screaming chartreuse color. Also known as Broccoli Romanesco or Romanesque Cauliflower, Romanesco is part of the Brassica family which also includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Though green, Romanesco is truly most like a cauliflower in its texture and gentle flavor. Like both broccoli and cauliflower its bizarre fractal florets can be easily cut from the stem for quick and easy cooking. It can be steamed and adorned with the lightest of seasonings for a perfect dish.
Generally Romanesco is in season from the fall until winter preferring a cooler temperature. However as noted, they are everywhere right now I suspect from winter growing in more mild climates. They don’t tend to stick around long so snatch some up and enjoy this mild, sweet, exotic looking vegetable while you can!
This bizarre and exotic appearing vegetables is truly one of the more mild in flavor. Most similar in texture and flavor to a traditional cauliflower, the Romanesco is simple and quick to prepare, not needing much to compliment its gentle flavor. There is no better vegetable to call attention to your late fall or springtime table!
- 1 head Romanesco, cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
- 2 large cloves Garlic, peeled and dices
- 2 Scallions, sliced (white and light green sections)
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Zest, divided into 1 teaspoon portions
- 2 teaspoon Jalapeno Pepper, diced
- 1 ½ tablespoons Pine Nuts
- Salt to taste
- Gently steam the Romanesco florets for 3-5 minutes, until firm but no longer crunchy in texture.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the garlic, scallions, and jalapenos until the scallions begin to become translucent (approximately 2 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest and the pine nuts, stirring constantly until the pine nuts begin to turn light golden (1-2 minutes).
- Add the steamed Romanesco and sauté to combine all the ingredients and flavors; about 2 additional minutes.
- Sprinkle on remaining lemon zest, and a pinch of salt to taste; give the mixture a few quick stirs to integrate the zest and serve.