Monday 21 November 2011

Romanesco Broccoli or Roman Cauliflower?


I was never too keen on cauliflower. It’s not that I disliked it, I just wasn’t crazy about it. Over the years, I’ve tried different ways of using it in my meals and came to appreciate its potential. The Romanesco cauliflower is my favourite variety. I just love the way it looks - it reminds me of sea coral. It has a flavour that sits between broccoli and cauliflower, maybe that is why this vegetable is also known as broccoflower. You can also find cauliflower in different colours (purple, orange, greenish/yellowish).

Recipe-wise, there is always, of course, cauliflower cheese, the cauliflower soup, cauliflower mash and the baked kibbeh, but the one I have been really enjoying lately is the roasted cauliflower salad. Even if you aren’t a cauliflower fan, this one could make you become a new admirer.

The ingredients
Cut the romanesco into florets and rinse
roast them,
until they caramelize at the edges
Then mix the florets with the rest of the ingredients,
season and enjoy it.

Roasted warm Romanesco cauliflower and chickpea salad
Serves 4 as a small starter or as a side dish

This salad is a great combination of protein and dietary fiber.

1 Romanesco cauliflower
250g chickpeas
2 lemons
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp black olives, stoned
2 lemons
1 clove of garlic - crushed
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 tbsp roasted pinenuts (optional)
15 leaves of fresh mint, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the cauliflower into florets, rinse them but don’t let them dry. In a small bowl, mix the juice of one lemon with the squeezed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. In a roasting tray, place the cauliflower and pour the juice all over the vegetable, and mix well. Cut the other lemon in quarters and scatter them in the roasting tray. Roast for 25 min or until the florets look caramelised at the edges. Turn them once.

In the meantime, sautée the onion until it becomes translucid, add the chickpeas and cook for 1 minute. Add the olives, mix and turn off the heat.

When the cauliflower is done, place it in a bowl, squeeze the juice from the lemon over it, add the chickpeas, the chopped mint, and mix gently. Scatter some pinenuts. Enjoy!

Some of the ingredients and their healthy benefits

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea): it belongs to the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, turnip, kale and Brussel sprouts). It has components called indoles that protect against breast and colon cancer; and sulphur, which has antiviral and antibiotic characteristics. It stimulates the liver. Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin B6, vitamim C, folate and potassium.

Chickpeas or garbanzo (Cicer arietinum): it is the most nutritious of all the legumes. It is very good for your pancreas, stomach and heart. It is high in protein, fat and carbohydrate. Contains very good levels of iron (more than other legumes), calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and B vitamins - especially folic acid (B9). Sprouted chickpea contains vitamin C and enzymes.

Till next week!

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