The New Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

19 03 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza in a Cast Iron Pan

I’ve been singing the praises of cast-iron cookery for years. It’s always been an affordable, natural option for cooking with whole foods. I’ve also blogged about the way it puts iron in the food, and how great that is for vegetarians. It’s a great way to cook with a non-stick pan that doesn’t include chemicals that enter the food and the air and lodge in your body forever. That is one of my more frequently read articles on this blog, so feel free to check it out with the link below.

Link to Article and Recipe for Black Bean Soup

Well, thanks to my involvement with cast iron and the Lodge cast iron company, I was invited to join the amazing group of cooks, authors and chefs who have recipes in the new Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes (Oxmoor House). It’s by no means a vegetarian book, but the recipes that I contributed are. My all-veggie chili is vegan, and the roasted cauliflower pizza has cheeses on it, which vegans can replace with crumbled tofu or vegan cheeses. There are other meatless offerings, as well, and a whole chapter on variations on cornbreads. I love baking pizza, cornbread, and other things I want to be crusty in my cast iron skillet.

The Lodge Cast Iron Collection!

Click Here to Buy The Cookbook

Lodge is a family owned company, that has been manufacturing cast iron in the USA for over a hundred years. The pans are so durable that there are hundred year old pans still in use. A while back I taught a cast iron cooking class, featuring all Lodge cookware. As I expected, there were many questions about how to wash, season, and otherwise care for cast iron pans. Luckily, I have made lots of mistakes with mine, and have been able to recover every time. So, for the people who are afraid that they don’t know how to keep their cast iron in good shape, here is what I have learned.

1. Buy pre-seasoned. It’s a relatively new thing, back in the day you had to buy bare cast iron and slowly build a good coat of seasoning. You will still keep adding, but pre-seasoning make it much easier. Lodge assures me that the process that they use is completely vegan and kosher. Seasoning, for the unitiated, is the process by which the iron, which has a microscopically porous texture, is heated while it is in contact with oil. Each time the pores open and suck in a little oil, which bonds to the surface. The oil changes, too, getting dry and firm, and becomes like a non-stick coating.

Don’t make the mistake I have, of thinking that leaving a thick coat of oil on the pan is going to help. It will dry to a goopy, sticky layer that will smell rancid, because it is. Just rub on oil, and rub it off with paper towels, leaving it shiny. If you get the gunky layer, you will have to remove it (see below)

2. Never scrub. This whole seasoning thing is a big part of the function of the pan. Lodge sells a special bristle brush, that you can use to gently remove any stuck on bits of food. You can rinse, but don’t use soap. Other methods include just dumping salt in the pan and rubbing it out with towels, with no water at all.

3. Never gouge. Once you have this delicate layer of oil forming a seasoning layer on the pan, you don’t want to start scraping around in there with knives, metal tools, and the like. Of course, when you make cornbread or pizza in there, you will want to. You may just want to devote that pan to that purpose, but you will eventually need to fix it.

3. Go ahead and fix it when you do all of the above. If you mess up in any way, whether its by leaving the pan out on the barbecue in the rain, or over oiling, or scrubbing, or using tools that gouge, you can always reclaim the pan. It helps to have access to some tools. A funky, rusty pan can always be reclaimed, with some TLC. My Mother-In-Law used to cook in her cast iron until it was encrusted in stuff, and then every few years her son would take it to the shop and sandblast it back to new.  Lodge recommends that if you see a spot of rust, try just rubbing oil on it. If that doesn’t work, you can go ahead and scour it with a steel scrubbie or fine sandpaper. Other people have used a rotating wire brush that you can attach to a drill. The idea here is to get any excess, chipped looking black buildup or rust off the pan and start with a smooth surface when you re-season. Don’t go any deeper than you have to. Once you have bare metal you need to get oil on it IMMEDIATELY. Bare metal will re-rust just by being exposed to air.

4. Re-season. Once you have scrubbed or sanded, rub the surface with some high heat oil, preferably solid shortening. There is an organic one that I keep around just for this. Turn the oven to 350 F, put a sheet pan lined with foil on the bottom rack, and put the pan upside down on the rack above it. Bake for at least an hour.

Cast Iron Cauliflower Pizza

Don’t ignore cauliflower as a tasty pizza topping. Here, while you prep the crust, you can roast the veggies to sweet tenderness and then use them on the pie.

Serves 6

1 1/2           cups  white whole wheat flour

1           teaspoon  quick rise yeast

1/4      teaspoon  salt

1           teaspoon  honey

3/4           cup  warm water

2        tablespoons  extra virgin olive oi, divided

8             ounces  cauliflower florets,  3 1/2 cup

1/2           cup  onion

1/2         small  red bell pepper, chopped

2             cloves  garlic, sliced

3             ounces  feta cheese, crumbled (Or equivalent firm tofu crumbled, with a dash of rice vinegar and pinch of salt)

2             ounces  Asiago Cheese, shredded (Or equivalent Daiya shreds or cashew cheese)

1/2           cup  chopped parsley or basil

canola oil and sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 425 F. Make the dough, in a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Stir the warm water and 1 Tbs olive oil in and knead to make a soft, barely sticky dough. Add a little more flour if needed. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise while you prep the veggies.

In a large roasting pan, toss the cauliflower, onion, bell pepper, garlic and remaining olive oil.Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes. The cauliflower should be soft and golden browned in spots. Let the veggies cool slightly. Oil a 12 inch cast iron skillet and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Punch down dough, then shape into a large round. Press into the cast iron pan and press it up the sides about an inch. Sprinkle in the roasted veggies, cheeses and herbs. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is crisp in the center of the pizza and the cheeses are melted and golden. Tilt the pan and use a spatula to lift the pizza onto a cutting board to cut in 6 pieces.





The Only Winter Tomato

3 03 2012

Sweet Grape Tomatoes

It’s the dead end of Winter, here in Minnesota, and as much as we love the roots and greens, we crave a little taste of summer. I must admit, when I want a taste of true tomato, the only fresh tomato I even bother with these days is the grape tomato.

The grape tomato, a pear shaped or oblong version of the cherry tomato, is pretty much available in all the grocery stores these days, but it wasn’t always so. They really emerged on the market in the ‘90s, where their dependable taste made them a hit. The Santa Sweet is a trademarked variety, owned by a Philadelphia company that has made them as familiar as the old cherry tomato. I keep an eye out for the assorted packs of multicolored pear and grape tomatoes, with yellow, red, purple and orange little tomatoes. I know they are not local, but they actually taste like tomatoes.

The main difference between these little ovals and big tomatoes is that they are really sweet. In fact, the yellow ones can be so lacking in acid that once they are dead ripe they taste kind of flat, so don’t wait to use them up. I like growing the red and yellow pears because they grow quickly and profusely, even in less than optimum spots in the yard.

My winter habit is buying my pints of Grape tomatoes, setting them on the sill, and letting them keep ripening as I slice them onto sandwiches, throw them into salads, and the usual. If I don’t get to them fast enough, they often start to crinkle and shrink. This is actually a sign that it’s time to roast them off.

Sliced and Juicy

Slice the grapes in half, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 400 for 35-40 minutes, uncovered. Give them a shake, and if they are really wet, roast another 10, but basically, just cook them til they shrink and concentrate into flavor bombs.

Roasty tomatoes

Now, with a sprinkling of sea salt, they are ready to keep on hand for sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, wherever a pop of tomato flavor will add some summer joy to life.

Today I toasted up some multi-grain ciabatta, smeared it with dijon, and piled on sliced avocado, the roasted tomatoes, and chopped spinach. A sprinkling of good salt and pepper on the tomatoes and avocadoes was all I needed. It tasted like summer.

The taste of the Sun

aaah. Summer. I can dream.





Heirloom Tomato and Basil Season is Here!

21 08 2011

Tomato+Basil+Olive Oil

To you, it’s August, which may mean that the school year is almost upon you, or that it’s time to get to those projects in the yard you had been putting off. For me, it’s heirloom tomato season. Here in Minnesota, we wait through several frigid months of winter to make it to this respite, and we are very serious about enjoying summer. One of the most fleeting joys of the year is the homegrown heirloom tomato season. Because our season is short, and the heirlooms take a long time to mature, we are lucky to have them from late July into September.

My personal tomatoes, all 8 plants, have produced 3 small regular tomatoes and a few handfuls of mini-pear tomatoes in red and gold. It has been a tough year for them, with high heat and periods of heavy rain. Of course, I always wonder why plants that originated in the tropics would be so unhappy with heat, but I shrug and just keep pulling those brown leaves that might have fungus.

And buying great tomatoes from my local farmers.

So when the juicy, lumpy motley crew that is the heirloom tomato harvest finally comes my way, it’s time to put down whatever I was working on and revel in deep, vine ripe flavor. Luckily, my basil is in sync with the tomatoes, so all I really have to do is put the two together and magic happens.

From the purple and black to the yellow and nearly white, heirlooms are a rainbow of goodness. They call them heirlooms because they were saved from seed by home growers, and bred for flavor rather than shippability over many years. The results are fragile, sometimes oddly shaped, and intensely unique tasting tomatoes.

Of course, tomatoes have the super healthy bonus of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is thought to lower risks of prostate and breast cancers. Tomatoes are also good at lowering cholesterol and unhealthy fats, and are associated with lower risk of osteoporosis, too. It’s not hard to get the recommended 3 servings a week that are recommended for your health. This is food as medicine at its most delicious.

The Purple Blush

So tonight I will simply chop some tomatoes, I’ve got some gorgeous Purple Cherokees, ready to go. Chop some fresh basil, mince some garlic, and toss it all with olive oil and coarse salt and cracked pepper. You now have a versatile dish that can become a salad, with a spritz of balsamic and maybe a few croutons or bits of fresh mozz. You can pile it on some toasted French bread and call it bruschetta. You can boil some angelhair and toss it with the tomatoes and basil in the hot pan before serving.

You can even add a chopped chili and scoop it up with chips, and call it Italian salsa.

The main thing is to let the simple flavors of those precious tomatoes and basil shine through. They won’t be here long.





Popeye’s X-Ray Eyes

3 07 2011

Baby Collards in My Garden

Remember those old cartoons, where the character who ate carrots suddenly had super-x-ray-vision? Well, carrots are great, but of late, research keeps pointing to Kale. Specifically, to the Lutein found in kale and other leafy greens.

I don’t know about you, but I really like being able to see. In recent years, I have watched my Mother go through eye surgery, multiple treatments, and a steady loss of vision. Her sister also suffers from vision issues, and the two of them undoubtedly share genes with me that will lead me down a similar path. But I have been seeing an opthalmologist for annual screenings, and I think I have a secret weapon in my diet. Greens.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry ,says that lutein may protect the DNA of photoreceptive cells in the retina from the harmful effects of strong light. This adds to previous research showing that lutein helps protect us from age-related macular degeneration. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation reports that research shows that supplementation can actually replace lost pigments in the eye, and they recommend getting a daily dose of 6-30 milligrams of lutein and zeanthin, another carotenoid that is often present in the same foods.

These results have fueled a market for lutein supplements, which are, curiously, made from marigolds. But as long as you are trying to protect your health, maybe you should just load up on the green stuff. The highest amounts of lutein in foods are in leafy greens of all sorts, as well as in other colorful foods, like egg yolks, corn and oranges.

If you are going to eat with an eye to getting lots of lutein, remember to eat some fat with it, since it is a fat soluble nutrient, and needs fat to be absorbed. A cup of cooked kale has over 30 milligrams, which would be in the range of a good days worth. A cup of cooked spinach has over 14 mg, a cup of collards has at least 16.

Oh, and a baby carrot has 35 micrograms. That means you have to eat alot of them to get any significant amount of lutein.

No matter your age, you need to protect your eyes from damage. I’m betting on a steady diet of greens to help keep my eyes in top form, for whatever genetic curve ball is heading my way.

So, how do we get our greens? In a previous post, I extolled the joys of the green smoothie. I like to start every day with a blender drink made from 5 ounces of spinach, 1 ½ cups of frozen berries, a banana and 1 ½ cups of juice or kefir. If you are using juice or fat-free dairy, add something with a little fat, like a tablespoon of almond butter, or a splash of coconut milk.  It really tastes great, and I eat 55 mg of lutein before I leave the house.

Link to that post:

https://robincooksveg.wordpress.com/2011/03/

Kale is a source for other nutrients vegetarians need, like calcium and EFA’s, so it’s worth exploring. The simplest way to prepare it is sautéed in olive oil, with some garlic and chiles for an Italian flair. Stirred into soups, curried and pureed, or blanched and dressed for a salad, kale has a hearty flavor that is best with other strong tastes. Lately I like to finely shred kale into coleslaws, with vinaigrette dressing. Collards, turnip greens, and mustard are all from the same eye-loving family, so give them a try. Spinach is the sweetest and mildest of the lutein greens, so if that is easier for your palate, dig in.

I’ll be seeing you, thanks to my kale salad!

Marinated Kale Salad

Here is a link to a simple kale chip recipe on Vegetarian Times’ Website:

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/11213?section=





May is Mediterranean Month!

14 05 2011

Soaking up Mediterranean Sun

May is a good time to think about eating healthfully, with summer sneaking up on us, we all get a little bit more “into our bodies.” Getting active and moving around outside, hopefully that motivates us to think a little more about maintaining our health for the long haul.

If you are in that frame of mind, the Oldways organization has declared May “Mediterranean Diet Month.” If you are not familiar with Oldways, they are a wonderful group that was founded in the 80’s to educate modern eaters about the wisdom of eating the “old” way. The Mediterranean Diet is an ancient way of eating that emphasizes unprocessed foods from the Med region. Lots of whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, fish, a little dairy, and very little meat, with olive oil and wine thrown in for good measure.  Med goes Veg very easily.

If you are thinking of going veg, or of trying to tempt people to eat veg with you, Mediterranean foods are always crowd pleasers. The meatless standards of hummus, tabouli, veggie lasagna and big salads are all from the Mediterranean. Just skip the fish and replace it with walnuts and other high omega 3 foods, and you will be dining like the ancients. Small amounts of dairy, in the form of yogurt and cheese, can work for you, or you can go vegan and eat more calcium rich leafy greens. Whole grains are an important base for the Med diet, and they confer all their health promoting qualities to you as you enjoy them in hearty Greek salads and Lebanese flatbreads.

The reasons for reviving the good old days of eating are many. Oldways has collected countless studies showing that eating this way will prevent most of the diseases of our current society, from heart disease and diabetes to obesity and tooth decay. Olive oil and walnuts are even associated with lowered risk of depression.

for a past post on that:

https://robincooksveg.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/winter-blues-feed-your-brain-with-the-mediterranean-diet/

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was created by the group based on the eating style of the island of Crete, Greece and Southern Italy circa 1960, when their rates of chronic diet-related disease were enviably low. 1960 isn’t all that long ago, but those regions were still eating the way their ancestors did, and enjoying life to the fullest.

The Oldways Pyramid, Just take out the meat and fish

So if you want to stay active, feel great, and eat delicious food, the Mediterranean way is a good way to go.  It’s certainly a tasty way to eat yourself well!

For recipes on the Oldways website, go here:

http://www.oldwayspt.org/recipesresources

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

(from Oldways)

This recipe was passed from Oldways Staffer Georgia Orcutt to Sara Talcott after a conversation about the wonders of barley, and now is a favorite. Its flavors are rich and complex, and it is wonderful over a bed of spicy arugula, and can be served cold or at room temperature. Recipe adapted from Gourmet.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
1 3/4 cup veggie stock or 1 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Instructions:

1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425 degree.

2. Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

4. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Serve with cheese slices.

Nutritional Analysis:

Per serving: Calories: 324, Protein: 6 grams, Fat: 19 grams, Saturated Fat: 3 grams, Carbohydrates: 36 grams, Fiber: 10 grams, Sodium: 533 mg.

Yield:
8 servings
for a hummus recipe:

Hummus





The Upside of a Sad Meal, A Recipe

16 04 2011

A Balm for The Soul

It was a spectacularly bad day.

A close friend died unexpectedly, leaving me alternating between feeling fine and being hit with the realization that I would never see him again. Lightning bolts of grief kept punching a hole in the thin veil of normalcy that came from going through the motions. Life would seem like the day before as I worked along, and then, boom. Never again.

Casting about for some appropriate thing to do at a time like this, we opted to have dinner at a restaurant where we once shared a happy time with him. He was Italian and loved Italian food. He would have urged me to have wine, but honestly, I didn’t feel up to it yet.

Feeling somewhat lost, I looked at the menu boards and just couldn’t think. Just had pizza, too much pizza, something else. I latched onto a pasta al aglio. With a side of salad, it would be comforting, simple. It might just make me feel better.

I should have had the wine.

My pasta came, and I dug in. White spaghetti, drenched in bland oil, barely garlicky to my morose palate. I wanted fruity extra virgin, sweet roasted garlic, or even bitingly fresh crushed garlic to slap me in the mouth.  Sassy, like his humor. Maybe my taste buds were too sad to care, but I just couldn’t taste the things I was hoping for. A few limp basil leaves, some chips of nondescript cheese, and a deep slick of pale oil. Just looking at it I knew it was the canola cut with cheap olive oil that the restaurant supply place used to swear that nobody would detect. Slices of un-toasted white baguette flanked the bowl, offering me a carb-oblivion.

Of course, I ate it all. Every lame bite. My stomach ached for hours after, just from stuffing it so full.Of course, I was eating for comfort, overeating to make myself feel better. And the pang in my belly just reminded me of my folly.

If he had been there, we would have been chatting and laughing, I would hardly have cared about the pasta. I might have gotten something else. Mostly, he would have been there.

Instead of that greasy bowl of noodles.

So there it was, hard reality like a rock in my stomach. I really should have had the wine, then I could have lamented trying to drink my troubles away the next day instead.

I’ll never have the dinner I wanted, because he is gone.

But I did have some time to think about why I as so mad at that damn bowl of pasta. As much as I go out to eat to be inspired, and to taste things I want to make at home, sometimes I have something that makes me want to go home and make the dish I thought I was going to get. Maybe my critique of the pasta was a sign, a sign that I might still be me.

I’m still waiting for something good to emerge from this loss. In my life, I have found that in hindsight, something almost always does. Love is lost, new love comes, a door closes another opens. Of course, it takes time, and hindsight. Right now its just senseless and stupid.

So to make it just a little better, I’ll make the pasta I wish I had had that night. I might have been just as unhappy with it, I might have felt just as sick after stuffing it in. But at least this one has some garlic.

He would have wanted it that way.

Pasta al Aglio for John

John was not vegetarian, but he ate and enjoyed veg food at my house. This is plenty cheesey, vegans can sub 2 tablespoons of toasted and chopped hazelnuts tossed with a few tablespoons of toasted breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt for the cheese.

Serves 4 as a side, 3 for a main course

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 bulb garlic, peeled but whole
1 large carrot, julienned
1 cup snap peas
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more if needed
8 ounces angelhair pasta, whole wheat
3 ounces tangy, aged local cheese or asiago, finely shredded
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
1/2 teaspoon salt
coarsely cracked black pepper

Put on a pot of water for the pasta, salt it liberally, and preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the whole peeled garlic cloves in a small metal bowl or a piece of oil and drizzle with one tbs of olive oil. Cover or wrap and bake for 15-20 minutes, shaking occasionally and testing by piercing the cloves with a paring knife. When they are butter-soft and tender they are done, cool. In a large saute pan, heat 2 Tbs of the remaining olive oil and add the carrots, saute for a minute, then add the peas, pepper flakes and lemon zest and heat. Cook the pasta one minute less than the package says and drain, saving half a cup of pasta water.

In a bowl, mash the garlic with the salt and lemon juice, then add to the saute pan. Toss the hot pasta with the garlic, the saute in the pan, and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, cooking over medium high heat until the sauce has coated the pasta, then add half of the cheese and the basil. Crack pepper and sprinkle with salt, to taste. Serve topped with the remaining shredded cheese.

Garlic





Old- School Italian Tradition Expressed in Fractals

27 02 2011

The Brassica from Outer Space, or Rome

I was rushing through my local supermarket the other day when I was struck by something beautiful. Here in the depths of winter, we are surrounded by grey snow and greyer skies, so the occasional splash of color seems to waken something primal. There on a display table in the produce department were three bright rows of brassicas, one of purple cauliflower, one of white, and one of chartreuse Romanesco.

Broccoli Romanesco, which is sometimes called a broccoli and sometimes a Romanesco Cauliflower, seems to exist outside such earthly classifications. It may have the approximate form of a head of cauliflower, but its as if it were assembled in the food replicator on Star Trek, and the machine put it together digitally. The perfect spirals of tight florets are considered a fractal pattern, a math term for a repeating series of forms, all of which are miniature versions of the larger form. I don’t know exactly what that means, but the geometry of the veggie is stunning.

It might seem like some new hybrid from the lab, but it’s actually an old, Italian veg, whose history goes back at least to the 16th century. It’s being harvested now in California, but its unique structure makes it delicate to ship, so it’s a little hard to find, and costs a little more than cauliflower.

All I know is that it is exciting to behold, and offers a bit of variety to your cruciferous dining life.  It’s a solid player in the nutrition department, and a very good source of fiber, C, B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese , and a good source of protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium and zinc. The little surprise is that the protein in such a veggie is actually complete, offering up the prized perfect balance of all the needed amino acids.

So what do you do with such a veggie?

With such a unique look, it’s a veg you want to show off. I’m sure it makes a great puree or creamy soup, but why waste those fractal pyramids? My first choice in using romanesco is to lop it into large sections, keeping the florets intact and creating some flat surfaces. Those flat sides will brown up nicely in a sauté or roasting pan, sizzling in hot olive oil. This can be served simply, or built into a pasta or rice dish.

It’s also gorgeous separated into florets and briefly steamed, so that you can drag it through a tasty sauce or dip. And if you are making up a veggie tray for dipping, adding romesco to the mix will probably spark both conversation and increased interest in vegetable consumption.

Romanesco with Capers and Olives

1 small romanesco

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, slivered

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

salt and pepper

Cut the romanesco into large (2-3 inch) pieces, trying to get some flat sides. Drop them in boiling water for about 1 minute, just to soften. Drain well.

 

just a minute

 

Let it get nice and toasty

Heat the olive oil over med high heat  in a large skillet. Add the romanesco, stirring for about 5 minutes until browned. Add garlic, capers and olives, and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the capers are lightly toasted. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes, or a splash of lemon or vinegar, if the capers didn’t already give it enough kick. You can also throw in some halved cherry tomatoes and cook until they are juicy, then toss with cooked penne.

 

try not to eat it all with your fingers