forkEdition #20 / CABBAGE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE BORING!
Savoy cabbage, white cauliflower, purple cauliflower, red cabbage, kohlrabi, white cabbage, pak choi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccolini...
WOW, the cabbage family has a lot of members!
It’s a sizeable list, and I haven’t even mentioned the most Italian of them all: Romanesco broccoli. Have you tried it?
First off, it’s gorgeous! A bright, pale green (the perfect colour for spring), it has a truly unusual shape: pyramid-esque and pointed, just like its inflorescences, which take the form of conical rosettes arranged in a spiral to create a series of symmetrical iterations that repeat ad infinitum.
It looks like the proof of some geometric theorem!
But let’s step away from geometry and focus on cooking. Looking through our #forkEdition recipes, I notice that side dishes are in short supply... So here we are: what could be better than some nice pan-fried Romanesco broccoli?
Simple, tasty and healthy (rich in vitamin C and antioxidants), it’s a traditional Roman dish.
And so, while we can’t fasten our seatbelts as if we were flying to Rome Fiumicino, let’s at least fasten up our aprons, letting the evocative power of flavours and aromas do the work... Buon viaggio! 💗
[preparation time: approx. 20 minutes]
Ingredients [serves 4]
- 700 g Romanesco broccoli (only the tops) – it’s a variety of Brassica oleracea
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- 1 whole chilli pepper
- Salt (to taste)
- A couple of tablespoons of pitted olives (preferably Taggiasca olives: small and very tasty)
- A high-sided pan
- A frying pan
- A small knife for the vegetables
- A chopping board
For this simple recipe, let’s start with the star: the broccoli! Clean it thoroughly, keeping only the florets – the inflorescences with their little stems.
Rinse them well in running water. Cut the larger florets in half and leave the smaller ones whole: the latter will be the most photogenic part of the dish.
Boil all the florets for about 5 to 6 minutes, submerging them in a pot of boiling, salted water.
Alternatively, you can steam them in a covered steamer: allow 3 minutes from when the water starts to boil.
No, you didn’t read that wrong: the beauty of Romanesco broccoli lies in its crunchiness. Don’t over-boil it – remember that it’s also going to be pan-fried. Serving up mushy broccoli is a complete no-no!
So, on that note: once boiled, it’s time to pan-fry it.
First, fry the garlic in oil on a high heat, getting it nicely browned by tilting the pan. If you leave it whole, you can easily remove it to make the broccoli easier to digest. Add the chilli pepper and, a few moments later, pour in the boiled and drained florets.
Add salt to taste and sauté for just 5 minutes, still on a high heat. Don’t be afraid – the secret is that the oil needs to be very hot. If you like them, now is the time to add the olives: they should sizzle nicely and give the whole thing extra flavour.
There we go, our Roman-style broccoli is ready: you can eat it paired with a nice slice of Pecorino, the Roman cheese par excellence! Or add it to a nice bowl of pasta. But we’ll talk about that another time!
Buon appetito! 💗