Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Something Gratin in California -- Broccoli Romanesco

Do exotic looking vegetables frighten or intrigue you?

Broccoli Romanesco -- Part of the cauliflower family

Tender, beautiful, other-worldly, what a great feast for the eyes. Do you dare pick up something at the Farmer's Market or speciality grocery just to challenge yourself? Where is your sense of adventure? Talk to the produce folk, or the farmer at the other end of the table and ask questions. Why limit yourself? Food is to be an adventure, explored as readily as we taste fine or not-so-fine wines to find something new to add to our repertoire.  For heaven's sake, it could be something we just might like! Who could resist these exotic beauties, nearly pine cone shaped, creamy colors and spiral that just wraps us around it's little florets. Don't be afraid, just a cousin of our creamy well loved cauliflower. Indulge, roast, saute, or smother with cheesy goodnesss.

Asiago Cheese,  Toasted Almonds with Broccoli Romanesco
Broccoli Romanesco Gratin
Serves 6-8
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

3-4 cups Broccoli Romanesco (1 head), sliced or cut into chunks
2 tablespoons butter
½ medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups 2% Milk (or whole Milk)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
⅓  cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Asiago cheese (I used Metropolitan Market Rosemary Asiago)

⅛ cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped blanched almonds
½ teaspoon white truffle oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, butter interior of  4 quart baking dish.
Melt butter in medium sauce pan, add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until translucent (about five minutes), sprinkle in flour and stir to blend and cook roux until golden (another 5-8 minutes). Slowly pour in milk, continue stirring until roux and milk are thoroughly mixed together. Cook over low heat until thickened, add salt, white pepper, mustard, Parmesan and Asiago cheeses. Stir until cheese has melted, remove from heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.  Put chopped broccoli romanesco in baking dish,  pour cheese sauce over, stir to coat evenly.

Drizzle with white truffle oil and sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan cheese and chopped almonds. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and top is toasty browned.  Remove from oven and cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Tips
You can mix up your cheeses for this gratin, maybe a creamy fontina, or cheddar to change it up. If you can’t find rosemary asiago cheese, you can add ¼ teaspoon chopped rosemary to add that flavor layer.

Featured in the Fresno Bee 2/14/2012
Broccoli romanesco: Weird appearance, unique taste by Robert Rodriguez


  1. Magical, fractal romanesco looks so gorgeous in both au natural form and cooked into a scrumptious dish. As always, visiting here is inspiring and reviving...your photos more amazing all the time, Robin!

    1. You just brighten up my day with your comments and continued support Jenn! I thank you sincerely.

  2. (you left out the milk in your list of ingredients....) I have seen these beauties on the market and, although always fascinated, have never had the courage to buy one! But if I did I would no doubt make a gratin! I love the drizzle of truffle oil you added and I must try something like this. I think gratin is not only a great way to enjoy any vegetable (I mean, cheese sauce, am I right?) but it is also such an ideal winter comfort food!

    1. Good eye Jamie! Thanks for the catch. You're right, it is all about the cheese sauce. Rich and creamy makes any vegetable taste good ;-)

  3. Congrats on your write-up and recipe in the Fresno (CA, USA) Bee on Valentine's Day - February 14, 2012 (I believe it was in the print version on 2/15/12).

    1. Thank you! It was a nice article written by Bob Rodriguez, the Agriculture Reporter. Broccoli romanesco: Weird appearance, unique taste


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