I love autumn. The farm stands are overflowing with bushels and boxes of beautiful vitamin C-packed cruciferous vegetables and pumpkins.
One of my favorites is Romanesco cauliflower. Like a “regular” cauliflower, Romanesco has a tight compact head of florets attached by clusters of stalks. But it has a beautiful pale lime green color and the florets rise in a pyramid of pointed cones. Its delicate flavor is ideal for people who don’t like cauliflower. Look for a firm head with crisp leaves and store it in a plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator. Barely blanch the florets to create a picturesque crudité platter.
For a dramatic side dish, cook the entire head of Romanesco cauliflower until tender and drizzle butter or extra virgin olive oil on top. Due to its delicate flavor, it works well with fish or chicken. Or make this savory lemon, anchovy and garlic sauce to drizzle on Romanesco florets and serve it with steak.
Pistachio dukkah is a crunchy Egyptian spice combo that marries perfectly with vegetables. A few sprinkles of dukkah sprinkled over vegetables creates a huge burst of flavor … try this recipe tonight. Bon appétit!
Romanesco Cauliflower Done Two Ways(Serves 4-6)1 whole Romanesco cauliflower intact, leaves removed, and rinsed
Or: Romanesco cauliflower florets, separated
Large pot of boiling salted waterFor lemon butter sauce:4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon, grated zest and juiced or more to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteOr: For the anchovy beurre noisette:3 to 4 anchovies, soaked in milk and rinsed, patted dry
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or more to taste
1 teaspoon capers, drained
Freshly ground black pepper to tasteTo prepare:For a whole head of Romanesco cauliflower, make a slit in the bottom of the large center stalk for even cooking.
In a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat, add the cauliflower and cook, until it is tender to the point of a knife inserted into the largest floret on the stem or until crunch tender, about eight to 10 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the size.
For florets, cut the largest florets in halves or thirds for even cooking. Add florets to the boiling water and blanch until tender to the point of a knife. Drain well and keep warm.For the lemon butter sauce:In a small saucepan over moderate heat, melt the butter and simmer until the butter becomes golden and aromatic, but not burned. Skim off the white milky particles floating on the surface. Off the heat, whisk in the zest and lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings
Place the cauliflower in a bowl or rimmed platter; drizzle with lemon butter and serve. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.For the anchovy beurre noisette:Pat the anchovies dry with paper towels. Working on a cutting board, mince garlic and anchovies together until they become a paste.
In a small saucepan over low heat, add butter and cook until it is dark brown but not black, skimming off the white milky particles floating on the surface. Watch closely. It will also be very aromatic. Off the heat, whisk in the garlic/anchovy paste, lemon juice, capers and pepper. Taste and correct the seasonings.
Drizzle over the florets and serve at once. Pass remaining sauce at the table.Crunchy Grilled Autumnal Vegetables(Serves 6-8)1 head white, orange, purple or Romanesco cauliflower, cut into florets
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 each red, yellow and orange bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips
1 head garlic, cloves separated, but unpeeled
2 medium-large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch-thick lengthwise strips
Extra virgin olive oil as needed to lightly coat the vegetablesTo prepare:Preheat the grill until the coals are white hot. Keep a platter on the side for the vegetables once they are cooked.
Place one variety of vegetables at a time in a large bowl, drizzle with a few drops of oil until they glisten and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Transfer each vegetable to a basket or the grid of a hot grill. Working in batches, cook vegetables, rotating once grill marks appear and continuing until they are crunch tender. Remove the vegetables to the platter.
Immediately sprinkle the hot vegetables with a few pinches of pistachio dukkah, taste, and adjust the topping. Serve hot or at room temperature.Pistachio Dukkah A crunchy nutty topping(About 1/2 cup)3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
1/3 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to tasteTo prepare:Working in a dry non-stick skillet over moderate-high heat, add the seeds and toast one variety at a time, shaking the pan constantly to prevent burning. Toast until the seeds take on a little color and are aromatic. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and cool to room temperature.
First, place the sesame seeds in the spice grinder and process until coarsely ground and transfer to a bowl. Next, place coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds together in the grinder and process until finely ground. Stir the two mixtures together. Place pistachios in a mini chop and finely chop.
Finally, mix all the seeds, nuts, salt and pepper together. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate for up to one month.
It only takes a few sprinkles on top of the vegetables to create a crunchy burst of flavor.