This recipe was born out of a plan to make kale caesar salad that took a turn when I realized my fridge did not actually contain kale. Armed with a can of anchovies, a lemon, and herb garlic butter from my freezer, I was determined and craving caesar salad. That’s when I discovered a head of romanesco. So I married my simply roasted romanesco with the components of caesar salad and got this delightful result. Warm and toasty, it’s a more satisfying dish, particularly in the winter, and you'll appreciate the caramelized sweetness of the roasted garlic cloves.
Make for an easy and healthy, vegetable forward weeknight dinner, perfect for the busy holiday season. It serves two as a main dish or 4-6 as a side or appetizer.
Note: You may choose to whisk a runny egg yolk into the dressing, as in a traditional caesar, but I’ve made it with and without the yolk, and didn’t find much difference, so save yourself the step or top your finished dish with a soft boiled or poached egg.
Here's what you need:
1 head romanesco (if unavailable, this will be equally delicious with cauliflower)
8 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 2-oz can anchovies in olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
¼ cup grated romano cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup toasted garlic herb breadcrumbs or croutons
Here's what you do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the stem and leaves from the head of romanesco and discard. Slice the head of romanesco into 1 inch planks. It’s okay if florets fall from the core. You’re not looking for romanesco “steaks” but rather just attempting to use as much of the romanesco as possible, including its core. You should have a mix of planks or “steaks” and florets.
Toss the romanesco and garlic cloves with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, a few pinches of kosher salt and the crushed red pepper flakes and spread out onto a sheet pan.
Roast for 30-35 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally.
While the romanesco is roasting, make your dressing. Zest the lemon and set it aside. Squeeze the juice into a large wooden bowl.
Roughly chop the anchovies. Set aside a portion, approximately 1 fillet per person. Add the remaining chopped anchovies and oil from the anchovy can to the wooden bowl. Add the dijon mustard and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the anchovies into the lemon juice and dijon until well incorporated. Add more freshly ground black pepper to taste and olive oil to thicken if needed.
Remove roasted romanesco from the oven, drizzle and brush about half of the dressing onto the romanesco. Return to oven and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.
Add the lemon zest and cheese (if using) to the bowl with the remaining dressing.
Toss the roasted romanesco and garlic cloves with the remaining dressing. Serve topped with reserved anchovy pieces, chopped parsley, and toasted bread crumbs or garlic herb croutons.
To make toasted bread crumbs, I took about 1 tablespoon of herb garlic butter from my freezer stash (didn’t even defrost it first) and added to a hot pan. Once it started to melt, I added about ¼ cup of breadcrumbs and sautéed on medium heat, stirring constantly, until toasted.
Romanesco, which also goes by Romanesco Cauliflower or Roman Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, resembling both a cauliflower and broccoli in appearance, taste and texture, but it is unique with its bright green hue and spiked geometric pattern of florets. When cooked, it has an even nuttier flavor than its cousins. Like its cousins in the Brassica family, it is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and dietary fiber, so eat up!