Saturday, August 25, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #97

Scott from Real Epicurean is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and we are steadily marching towards the big 2 year celebration.

This week it's another farmers' market find and it's the first time I've managed to score myself one of these - it makes my mathematician heart flutter, the sculpturally magnificent Romanesco

Romanesco or Romanesco Cauliflower

This is another one of those vegetables that is known by various names such as - Broccolo Romanesco, Cavolo Romanesco, Romanesco Cauliflower, Romanesco Broccoli and Fractal Broccoli - what they all share in common is that this is a member of the brassica family.

Romanesco Cauliflower

Not only is this a fractal it's also an example of a Fibonacci equation.

Romanesco Cauliflower

It's a fractal form because it's made up of a repeating pattern that is formed by smaller copies of the overall shape and this repetition continues to infinity.

Romanesco Cauliflower

Its spiral form is known as an equiangular spiral.

floret floret

I thought I'd include a closer look at the individual florets, they are a clearer illustration of its fractal form.

floret halved

Now before this becomes Weekend Maths Blogging I should actually cook something with this. Since this is an Italian vegetable and I wanted to keep the integrity of its form, I've opted for an Italian dish - a simple frittata studded with romanesco florets and flavoured with leeks and marinated fetta.


Romanesco Frittata
[Serves 2]

3 large eggs
1 leek, white only, cut in half and sliced finely
marinated fetta
Romanesco florets
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the larger florets in half and leave the smaller ones whole. Boil in lemon infused water for a minute, drain and set aside. Use a slice of lemon in the water to lock in that vivid green colour.

Lightly whisk the eggs with a little salt and freshly ground white pepper - set aside until ready to use.

Place a little oil and a knob of butter in a small frypan and when the butter has melted add the sliced leeks. Cook gently until the leeks have softened and have started to colour. Place the cooked leeks into a sieve to drain off the excess oil and butter.

Return the leeks to the pan along with a small knob of butter and when melted add most of the florets, positioning them evenly in the pan. Turn up the heat a little and add the eggs - sit the remaining florets on top of the frittata and then scatter small pieces of marinated fetta.

When you see the edge of the frittata has sealed, use a palette knife to lift the edge and tilt the pan to re-disperse the uncooked egg - this will give you lovely puffed edges to your frittata.

Lower the heat and cover the pan to give it a chance to cook through - if you think the underside is getting too brown, then place the pan under an overhead grill to set the top.

When the frittata has just set - remove from the heat and serve at once.


Notes on Romanesco - you can eat it raw, in fact that is one of its more traditional ways of eating it. It has a flavour similar to cauliflower and broccoli but without the chalky edge found in raw cauliflower. Though I would say that if you could eat the colour green, then it would taste like Romanesco.

This was available at the Slow Food Farmers' Market but this is the last of the grower's crop - it was a test planting this year but next year he will be planting a lot more.

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  1. That is one amazing vegetable!!! I love it too!!! Bit like eating cauliflower and broccoli at the same time.

  2. That is one beautiful vegetable! I will have to try and track down some to try :)

  3. I think sculpturally this is the most beautiful of all vegetables. Those photos are truly stunning. I love how you've paired it with the feta.

  4. It's just fabulous Pat and tasty too!

    Hi Ellie - I did notice some at Prahran Market maybe a month ago at one of the organic grocers but they didn't look as nice as this one.

    Thanks Truffle - I could spend all day taking photos of it.

  5. Those photos are absolutely beautiful. I was really sucked in by how mathematically loving you were about it. It seems a shame then that it couldnt be served in a way that really brought out the spiraling pattern, like a whole steamed head, cut to sit upright, maybe with some contrasting sauce.

    By the way, it also reminded me of up close shots of antibodies in the bloodstream.

  6. Thanks TSG - I did toy with various ideas but the structure of the vegetable led me to make two dishes with it, the other dish made with the smaller florets of the upper romanesco

  7. Absolute gorgeous photos!

    I have never come across that vege before. Would give it a try .. if i manage to come across this vege.

  8. Thanks Ginger - I hope it crosses your path!

  9. As usual all the pictures are great but I especially liked the picture of the finished dish; it looks absolutely delicious. I'd love to try it but I've never seen Romanesco here in Midwest. I'll bookmark the recipe for later use when I move from Midwest.

  10. I've never seen that vegetable before - great informative post! Will try it if I ever see one :)

  11. Thanks Burcu - seems this is a most elusive vegetable.

    Thanks Agnes!

  12. OMG, I am drooling! Brassicas rule and this is the most gorgeous of them all. I loved the little excursion into Weekend Maths Blogging ;-)

  13. Thanks Jeanne - Mandelbrot would be proud of this veg!

  14. Thank you for the math lesson. Believe me, I can use it. Math was never my strong suit! Sounds delicious too.

  15. Thanks Kalyn - maybe maths would be improved if it involved more food ;)

  16. i have always loved looking at the beautiful formations in broccoli and cauliflower.
    these photos were lovely.

  17. Very interesting blog and beautiful pictures! :)

    Greetings from London, Margot

  18. I love everything cooked or baked with Romanesco broccoli! Mmmmmm....


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