It may seem new to some of us, but actually romanesco has actually been around forever! Forever as in ages, ages as in 16th century Italy. Like I said, forever. A cross between broccoli and cauliflower, it’s unapologetically captivating. I mean, really, it’s structure is quite a marvel. Such a marvel that I could even get my favorite Schwabe’s boys to eat it. Okay, not in this variation, but yes, they did eat it! Curiosity once again got the best of them. Love it.
Raw, it tastes similar to cauliflower with a distinct but subtle hint of broccoli flavor, but cooked it takes on a more flavorful sweet, mild and almost nutty taste. Almost as if it was going through a bit of an identity crisis.
So if you’re anything like me and not really in love with cauliflower, then maybe it’s time to try something new and start loving it’s glamorous cousin. In this side dish, romanesco blends perfectly with salty capers and tangy lemon. Warm or cold, this is a perfectly light side that is outrageously flavorful and tremendously healthy. Serve it alongside a little grilled fish or chicken for a light and satisfying meal.
Or if capers aren’t your thing, it’s really tasty steamed and adorned with a little olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper and shaved parmesan or for a full meal pair it with a little pasta — just don’t forget to add a little sautéed garlic and perhaps a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Completely simple. Completely delicious.
Sicilian-Style Romanesco with Capers and Lemon
Serves 4, as a side
1 head romanesco, cut into florets
4 tablespoons capers (salt-brined), drained
1/4 cup vegetable broth (60 ml)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
grated parmesan, as garnish
1. Fill the bottom of a large saucepan with 5 centimeters of water. Set up the steamer basket and place the romanesco florets in the steamer. Cover with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and steam for about 5-6 minutes, or until the romanesco is tender but still has a crunch.
2. Place the romanesco in a shallow bowl and add the capers; toss well to combine.
3. In small bowl, combine the broth, oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
4. Add the dressing to romaneso mixture, toss to combine. Garnish with parmesan and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and serve chilled.