Thursday, April 24, 2008

Romanesco Redux

I think my heart skipped a beat when I spotted its pointy green head peeking out from the vegetable stall...could it really be a Romanesco?


Indeed it was, although the shop is confusing calling it a "broccoflower" which up to now was the name given to the green cauliflower. I wasn't going to question this, I was just going to buy it, especially since they are currently selling it at a price lower than the standard cauliflower.


So if you are anywhere near Prahran Market and haven't ever tried one of these, then pop over and visit Organic Elements - just leave one for me!

The only problem I have with these vegetables are that they are just too fascinatingly beautiful but just staring at them just seems a waste.

This one has ended up joining it's rather pedestrian looking relative the cauliflower to create a green and white version of cavolfiore alla besciamella.

green and white cauliflower with béchamel

Green and White Cauliflower with Béchamel Sauce

white cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets
romanesco, cut into florets

Béchamel Sauce:
50 grams butter, diced
50 grams cornflour
750 mls/3 cups milk
25 grams grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
25 grams grated Tasty Cheese (you can use Swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere)
freshly ground white pepper
freshly ground salt
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano extra
grated tasty cheese, extra

Prepare the Cauliflowers:

Steam or boil until almost tender - leave a little bite in the vegetable as it will finish cooking in the oven.

Make the Béchamel Sauce:

In a saucepan, add the diced butter and melt over a medium heat. When just melted add the cornflower and stir, using a whisk until a smooth paste forms.

Let the paste cook for less than 30 seconds - make sure it doesn't get any colour. Add one cup of milk, whisking constantly. It may look lumpy but if you keep whisking they well break down and the mixture will harden again. As soon as it's hard, add the second cup of milk. Stir - this time you'll end up with a smooth thin sauce. Whisk occasionally over a low heat - it's important that you don't rush the process as you want to rid the sauce of any flour taste and that takes time. The sauce usually thickens from the outside in, so just whisk to amalgamate the differing consistencies.

Once it's thickened again add the final cup of milk and repeat the whisking process. This will give you quite a nice thick béchamel - you can add more milk if you want a more thinner sauce but only add it ¼ cup at a time until you achieve the desired thickness.

Add the grated cheeses and use a spoon to stir them through the sauce - continue cooking until the cheeses melt. Add a little white pepper and salt to taste. White pepper is preferred to Black pepper as it doesn't leave the sauce speckled with black dots. Take the sauce off the heat.

Assemble the dish:

Place the white cauliflower pieces over the bottom of your dish, sprinkle over with a little grated Parmigiano-Reggiano followed by some of the béchamel.

Now stud the romanesco florets amongst the white - I've stood some of the florets so they look almost like trees poking out of snow.

Drizzle over with the remaining béchamel and finish with a little more of the grated cheeses.

Bake in a pre-heated 180°C/350°F until golden brown and heated through.

Addendum: 29 april
There were no Romanesco's at the market today :(



  1. there's just something about browned cheese that sends me to cloud nine. this is a gorgeous dish! :)

  2. They're so pretty it seems a shame to cover them up with sauce, but that makes them all the more tasty!

  3. Lovely photo, and yes -- I agree with Grace and Brilynn on how delicious that sauce has got to be! Yum...

  4. This looks fantastic. You worry about covering up something so beautiful but you've made it so much more... This seems elegant and quick which is such a perfect combination.
    I have a sudden urge to seek this beauties out and make this, thanks!

  5. These cheeky little guys always elicit the most "oohs" and "aahs" at our farmers' market. That's a remarkably appealing recipe you've got there.

  6. if I was anywhere near the prahran market I would rush over but am hoping I might see them at the vic market - these would look beguiling in the enchanted broccoli forest recipe where you plant little broccoli trees in a bed of cheesy lemony rice! (your little trees comment made me think of it)

  7. My parent's grow Romanesco in their garden in SA. Can't wait to get home and have some again. My cousin and I call them the 'most amazing vegetable in the world' all those spirals and the wonderful mathematical elements of it. And best of all - so tasty.

  8. That Romanesco looks like it belongs on the coral reef somewhere. I have never seen it in my part of the world. But, the Bechamel sauce and the melted cheese sounds delicious! Very nice.

  9. Thanks Grace - there should be warning on it!

    Thanks Brilynn - it is a conundrum but I think the bechamel makes the situation a little more pleasant.

    Thanks Genie!

    Thanks Dayna - I hope you have a successful search.

    Thanks Susan - they are one of the more fascinating vegetables out there

    Hi Johanna - hopefully vic market has them

    Hi Bronwyn - it must be fascinating to actually watch them grow

    Thanks Chuck - it does look like coral

    Thank you Edamame.


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