What does your family’s standard Christmas dinner look like? If you’re like me and you think back to Christmases in the past, you might realize that most Christmas dinners tend to be a bit brown. Look, brown food is great. I love a good roast beef. I love bread! I love all things having to do with cookies and chocolate, but let’s face it we all need a bit of color in our lives. This year I’m on a mission to get color back into my Christmas spread. I’ll be bringing you a few more recipes that will do just this, but first off let’s start with a vegetable that as a stand alone is a beautiful table decoration and also something that is really delicious, the Romanesco Broccoli!!!! AKA my spirit animal… vegetable?
Have you ever seen these? As I picked the holy grail of vegetables up at my local Whole Foods, an employee walked over eyeing the veggie and asked, “So do you know what to do with that?” I smiled. Truthfully, I’ve actually never been able to find one of these before, but I’ve done a lot of reading. Like I said, this was the holy grail of veggies, I’ve thought about it for a long time but have had a hard time finding them. Okay basically, I have a slight crush on this vegetable and I’m pretty sure it might be my soulmate. I mean come on it’s like the peacock of veggies! Not only is it beautiful raw, it’s really tasty. Romanesco Broccoli is actually a wild cabbage. It’s in the same family as some of the more obvious veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc. It tastes much more like cauliflower but slightly nuttier. Typically, Romanesco is found in the late summer and early fall. When the temperatures cool off a bit at night. I’m suspecting with the weird weather patterns we’ve had in New York this year, that growing season was a bit later… or Whole Foods shipped these from Timbuktu? But let’s pretend they are farm fresh.
The big question on many peoples minds (including multiple people in the Whole Foods line and my mother) is what the heck do you do with these beautiful veggies? Honestly you can do just about anything that you would with broccoli and cauliflower. You can eat it raw, you can lightly cook it, you can make a soup, you can roast them. Um bingo! You can roast them and it’s delicious. The joy of roasting thus broccoli is that you have the opportunity to keep the entire vegetable whole. I find that in special occasions sometimes you need a stunner centerpiece to add to your feast. Yes, some might argue that, that should be your meat. And typically I’d say yes, but how can you not let the unicorn of the vegetable world be the center of attention? You’ll not only impress your guests, who most definitely will be completely awestruck by these intricate vegetables, but you’ll also create some really interesting conversation about your food. It all points to the ultimate validation as a hostess. And let’s be real that’s why we host.
We’ll first start with a simpl garlic, oil and cayenne pepper mixture, which you’ll brush onto your Romanesco followed by some salt and pepper seasoning. You’ll roast your Romanesco over thyme and onions.
You can stop once you’ve roasted these and present them to your guests as whole. They will make a beautiful spread. And you’ll want to ‘gram that ASAP. Plus, I love that these look like little Christmas trees. It’s just so cute!!! I can’t handle it! To serve, you will probably need to cut your Romanesco into pieces similar to how you’d serve a roasted head of cauliflower. If this just isn’t enough for you, I’ve got you covered.
The alternate plan after you’ve roasted these Romanesco is to break the Romanesco into large pieces. Try to keep those beautiful fronds whole. You can then add them into a beautiful winter salad, with various vegetables. I’m recommending you bring that color in again by pairing your Romanesco with raw beets, onions, and pomegranate seeds. You can sprinkle some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt over the salad. Again, you’ve got a seriously impressively piece to a gorgeous Christmas spread.
ROASTED ROMANESCO BROCCOLI
1 Romanesco Broccoli
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 – 5 sprigs of thyme
2 red pearl onions chopped into slices
salt & pepper
2 Roasted Romanesco Broccoli
10 – 12 small beets
8 red pearl onions, halved
1/4 white onion, chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- Preheat oven to 375° F. In a food processor, combine garlic, olive oil, and cayenne pepper. Chop till mixture is well incorporated.
- With a pastry brush, brush oil mixture over your Romanesco. Season with salt and pepper. On a baking sheet, layer thyme and onions. Top with the Romanesco. Roast for 40 minutes. Remove and serve OR
- Chop Romanesco into chunky pieces. Add sliced beets, onions and pomegranate seeds. Season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of salt.
And just like that, you’ve got a beautiful side dish meant for all the Christmas cheer!