Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower as it is also known, is an edible flower from the cabbage family. Chartreuse in color, with many conical buds, it has a delicate, nutty flavor. I received one of these interesting and unusual vegetables in a CSA basket from my friends at Outer Aisle last week and decided to roast it Italian style, for a versatile and tasty, seasonal side dish. I think you will love the way it tastes, sweet, salty, sour and winter fresh!
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 head of Romanesco, separated into florets
2 T pine nuts
2 T currants
1 T capers
1 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper
juice and zest of half a lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the florets in 2 T olive oil, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 T of olive oil in a small skillet over very low heat. Add the chopped garlic, pine nuts, currents and capers. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned and the nuts and the capers toasty. Stir in the smoked paprika and red pepper flakes and set aside. Remove the Romanesco from the oven and place it in a large bowl, big enough to mix it in. Pour the skillet ingredients over the Romanesco then the lemon juice and zest and toss to coat. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. You can serve this as a side dish with chicken beef or pork or toss it into pasta or even eggs. You could substitute broccoli or cauliflower in place of the Romanesco...but why?
My friend Annie came to my door yesterday with 'the last of the kale' from the garden. She was ripping everything out to get ready for the spring planting. I love it when inspiration comes knocking at my door, literally. It has been so cold and damp here, I am chilled to the bone! It seems like a good time to make some soup and this traditional potage from Tuscany is just the ticket! Full of cannellini beans, winter veggies, bread and of course, kale. It is best served the next day after it has been re-boiled (ribollita means re-boiled). So get cooking and mangia everyone!
*1/2 lb cannellini beans, soaked and cooked (alternately you can use 2 cans of white beans)
2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 lg cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chunked
1/2 lb kale, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb chard, coarsely chopped
2 c pureed tomatoes
3 - 5 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped and chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 - 4 c stock, veggie or chicken, added to the bean cooking liquid to make 10 cups (if you are using canned beans, you will need 10 c stock )
rustic bread for slicing
parmesan for grating (I put a 'heel' of parmesan in the soup too! I always save the outer edge of the parmesan, the heel, to add to soups)
Sauté the onion, celery, carrots and garlic in 2 T olive oil for 10 minutes over medium heat until soft but not browned. Add the potatoes, kale and chard and sauté for 5 minutes more until the greens soften and cook down. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper then add 1/2 of the cooked beans. Mash the other half of the beans or process in a food processor and then add to the pot, this adds a creamy element to the soup. Add the broth to the veggies and cook, stirring occasionally until all of the vegetables are soft, about an hour or so. You can eat the soup at this point but it is so much better re-heated the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld.
Slice a chunk of the rustic bread (La Brea sourdough is what I used) and place in a wide soup bowl. Ladle the soup over, drizzle with some good olive oil and shave some parmesan on top. YUM!
*Put the beans in a stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then simmer the beans for 45 minutes. Add 1 T salt and then continue to cook for 15 minutes more until done. Drain the beans, saving the cooking liquid. Add veggie or chicken stock to the bean broth to make 10 cups.
Cara Cara oranges are a wonderful surprise! They look exactly like regular navel oranges but cut them open and you are transported to a tropical vacation of glorious pink yumminess. I love them paired with roasted yellow beets, baby spinach, avocados and fennel for a refreshingly beautiful winter salad. Diet friendly too!
Cara Cara orange + roasted yellow beet salad
2 Cara Cara oranges (regular navel oranges or ruby red grapefruit work too) ends cut off, peeled and *supremed
1 avocado, cut into quarters, peeled and chunked
1 fennel bulb, top stalks cut off, sliced very thinly with a mandoline or sharp knife
8 cups baby spinach
4 small golden beets, **roasted, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 c toasted and salted sunflower seeds (optional)
Toss the spinach leaves in the vinaigrette and place on individual salad plates. Gently toss the orange segments, fennel and beets together witha little of the vinaigrette and top the spinach. Place the avocado chunks on top, drizzle with a bit more dressing and top with the sunflower seeds, if using. Alternately, toss all ingredients together with the vinaigrette, top with sunflower seeds. Serves 6-8.
1 t dijon mustard
1 t honey
2 T white wine vinegar (I just found out that Marisolio a wonderful olive oil and vinegar store, here in Murphys, has a Cara Cara Orange-Vanilla white balsamic vinegar. It would be an excellent choice for this dressing! Wow, thanks for letting me know Aubrey!)
2 T juice from prepping the oranges (squeeze the membranes for their juice)
3 T extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt + pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Gradually add the oil, whisking to emulsify. Salt and pepper to taste.
*Supreming is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in slices. To supreme an orange or grapefruit, begin by trimming off the very top and bottom of the fruit with a sharp knife. Next, set the fruit on end, and carefully cut the skin from its flesh, beginning at the top and following the curves down. Then, carefully cut out each section of the fruit by inserting the blade of the knife between the flesh and the membrane on both sides. The wedges should come out easily, leaving only the membrane intact.
**Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the beets, whole, on a large piece of tin foil. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap beets tightly in foil and place on a sheet pan or small baking dish. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, rub with a paper towel to remove skins.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"