Big Gowns and Siamese Hair-dos

Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in Salad | 1 comment

Big Gowns and Siamese Hair-dos





Romanesco has been cultivated in Italy since the 16th century.  Is it broccoli or cauliflower?



When I first saw this vegetable, it called to be plucked from the basket and rotated around and around in my hand.

It is a stunning chartreuse crown of turrets which reminded me of a hair-do I had seen in a movie as a child.

I have lovingly brought home Romesco Cauliflower as it is called in the United States each year during this growing season.

After peeling away the leaves, the turrets can be separated to be eaten as a crudités.  Raw they are dense and nutlike in flavor.  I have steamed, roasted, and cooked the vegetable in pasta.

But this preparation was over the top!

Recently Food and Wine featured a side dish created by Jean Georges Vongerichten in 2011.

He roasted Brussels Sprouts and tossed them with toasted pecans and avocado.  It inspired me to create dinner from some of  our market bounty.








Hazelnuts were my nut of choice.  They seemed so Italian--reminiscent of fragrant biscotti.








After steaming the spirals in a basket for 6-8 minutes,








they were tossed with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 425 degrees until tender.

Earlier, I simmered black eyed peas which have been in the pantry since the New Year.








I whisked together  about 4-5 tablespoons of Meyer lemon and thyme vinaigrette.








We had been waiting, patiently waiting, and waiting for this Pinkerton avocado grown in Riverside to ripen.








The stars aligned.

MP walked into the kitchen looked at the elements and said nothing.

I placed the peas in a bowl with a couple of handfuls of wild spicy arugula and the diced avocado.








I tossed them gently with some of the dressing before adding the hazelnuts, and warm Romanesco florets.

A little more dressing and...








This half warm textured salad blossomed into a fusion of 16th century Italy with local cropped vegetables, earthy tender black eyed peas, and sweet Meyer lemons.

We talked about it all the way to church...

Just listen!

I am adding this new revision on April 26, 2014.  Every week during this time of year, I buy a Romanesco and am quizzed as to what to do with it.  Here is how I approach the salad now for the best outcome.  Consider making the black-eyed peas and vinaigrette in advance and keeping them in the refrigerator.  The nuts can be roasted earlier too and stored in the freezer.

  • Steam the florets until barely tender
  • Line a sheet pan with foil and toast hazelnuts at 350 degrees until fragrant (8-10 minutes).  Remove them to a tea towel and wrap up for a few minutes; roll them around in the towel to loosen the skins. Pluck the nuts out and discard the skins.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 425.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the same sheet pan and brush the surface of the foil.  Lay the florets in a single layer on the sheet pan.  Spray or lightly drizzle a little more oil over the florets and sprinkle them with kosher salt.  Oven roast the florets until tips are golden brown.
  • Toss the arugula with a little of the lemon vinaigrette (I add thinly sliced apple to the arugula now as well for a sweet crunch.  Line a platter with the lightly dressed arugula.
  • Top the greens with the florets, avocado chunks, and a scattering of black eyed peas
  • Drizzle the rest of the salad dressing over the florets.
  • Top with chopped nuts.










One Comment

  1. 2-27-2013

    Yum, I say yum. Cauliflower lovers, you have to try this recipe.


  1. Say Cruciferous | cococooks... - [...] ate it once a week last year in a half warm salad with avocado and black-eyed peas—and eagerly grabbed…

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