I can't remember exactly how it went, but the idea for this blog grew from a conversation Kat and I had while hiking, when I named Romanesco (pictured at left, in pointed glory) my favorite weird vegetable. I also claimed I'll someday tattoo its image upon myself while singing the praises of this green, fractal wonder. (FYI: That is the New York Times lying on my kitchen table, and yes, I consider this vegetable elite.)
Its verdant, whirling form inspired love at first sight, so I took it home (from the Oak Hill Farm stand at the Sonoma farmers' market) and treated it rather unadventurously – like broccoli's edgy cousin. Steamed and salted, the flavor lies somewhere between cauliflower (earthy/nutty) and said queen of green crucifers (bitter and sweet, vegetal). But when I saw, then tasted, roasted Romanesco florets sprinkled around scallops at Quince, my adoration grew like Totoro's tree.
My preferred preparation method is a hybrid pan-roast and steam: throw it in the skillet with olive oil, garlic, plenty of salt, then add your liquid of choice (water, stock, PBR) and cook it off to mellow the crunch. (Also helpful is this straightforward yet poetic description from the Food Lover's Companion.)
I'll frequently turn the resulting slightly browned bits into a puree, sometimes with the addition of tahini. Pictured here is purple cauliflower given the same treatment: pureed, then spread on cheese toast. I once brought this snack on an airplane, and when my seatmate blurted, "What are you eating?" I was more than happy to reach across the aisle and spread my love of weirdness.