Monday, March 11, 2013

Fractal Fantasy: Romanesco Rules!

Romanesco has to be the coolest vegetable on the planet with its mesmerizing swirls and fluorescent green color. It's also a great way to introduce kids to fractal geometry and, if they're not fond of vegetables, to distract them with the riveting tale of Benoit Mandelbrot. Here's a recipe from contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food that should provide a great opportunity.

Just because the calendar looks more Spring-like don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be eating anything much different that the usual members of the cabbage family that’ve been around all winter. But that’s okay; they’re delicious.

Romanesco with Olives & Capers

The fractal heads of the bright green cauliflower called Romanesco broccoli look so cool you have to serve them intact. This composed salad preserves the psychedelic shape.

Drop the whole head of Romanesco into a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Cook it for about 5 minutes, then drain and cool. Cut the flowerets from the stem; you can either chop the stem more finely and add it to the salad or save it for another dish. Combine the flowerets in a large bowl with a walnut-sized shallot, finely chopped, a couple of tablespoons of Pantellerian capers*, rinsed and chopped, a half cup of pitted & chopped oil-cured olives, and a couple of chopped small, inner stalks of celery with their leaves.

Drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a small splash of red wine vinegar (Katz Trio), a healthy pinch of flor de sal, and another or two of the Pantellerian oregano*. Toss well and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

* These are terrific, but if you don't have the Pantellerian version in your pantry, regular capers and oregano will do.

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