Umbria in the fall is a great place to visit. Not only are the fall colors of the trees glorious, but the grapevines turn a gorgeous orange or red depending on what type of grape they are. Black and white truffles along with chestnuts are in season, and therefore there are many festivals held across the region each weekend to celebrate these fall treasures. We were recently in Citta di Castello which is a very pretty little city in northern Umbria as they were holding a white truffle festival. Along with a large market selling everything with truffles by several different vendors, there was a large marketplace selling regional specialties from regions across Italy. Unfortunately, we are leaving Umbria next week so I couldn’t buy much, but I did convince my husband to buy a few more truffle products to take home with us. While we were walking through town, we spotted an organic greengrocer that had a large variety of unique fall vegetables for sale. Of course, I had to buy a beautiful head of purple cauliflower, along with a large Romanesco one.
Romanesco is one of the most unique yet beautiful vegetables you can buy. It’s part of the brassica family like cabbage or kale and has a flavor somewhere between that of both broccoli and cauliflower. It is bright green in color and has points jutting out of it that remind me of pine trees. Romanesco has a mild flavor and is delicious prepared in a variety of ways. This different vegetable like other members of the cabbage family is a nutritious powerhouse packed with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
When buying Romanesco, look for heads that are bright green in color, with a firm, not wilted stem. Try to find heads with the leaves still attached, because the leaves will discolor first so if they have been removed, it is a good sign that the head isn’t as fresh as it should be. The heads should also feel dense or heavy for their size. Store unwashed Romanesco in airtight plastic bags in the refrigerator, and it is best to cook the Romanesco within a day or two of buying them.
I usually roast Romanesco in the oven until tender and slightly charred with just a toss of olive oil, salt, and pepper, but I wanted to try something different this week, so I tossed the roasted florets in a vibrant green sauce flavored with garlic and lemon. This vegetable side dish goes well with just about any type of meat, poultry, or seafood, and would also make a great addition to any holiday menu.
Deborah Mele 2018
- 1 Head Romanesco
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
For The Sauce:
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
- Zest & Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 5 to 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper To taste
- Pinch of Red Chili Flakes (Optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the head into small, bite-sized florets, discarding the stem and any leaves attached.
- Toss the florets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread the florets across a foil-lined baking sheet, and then bake for 10 minutes.
- Shake the pan, and continue to cook until the florets are fork tender and lightly browned, about another 10 minutes.
- Place the sauce ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well blended.
- Place the roasted florets in a bowl and pour the sauce on top and toss well.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 318 Total Fat: 31g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 26g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 187mg Carbohydrates: 10g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 4g Protein: 4g