romanesco, salad, healthy, paleo, vegetarian,

Recipe: Gjelina's Roasted Romanesco

Fresh from the Venice hotspot's new cookbook, a Middle Eastern-inspired veggie dish.

Winning the award for most geometrically fascinating produce is the romanesco. It’s a vegetable that boasts a bright green head covered in spirals upon spirals. For all its aesthetic appeal, it’s also got health appeal. Because it’s a cousin of broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts, it boasts a similar nutritional profile, offering vitamins C, K and B6, plus fiber, folate and potassium, explains Alicia Romano, MS, RD, a clinical registered dietician at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. There’s also a purple variety—the color comes from anthocyanins, the same antioxidant responsible for making blueberries blue. Although more research is needed, “fruits and vegetables containing anthocyanins may play a role in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer,” Romano says.

You can cook romanesco as you would broccoli or cauliflower, or give it the West Coast treatment. Gjelina, one of our favorite eateries in Venice, has released its first cookbook and gives the florets a Middle Eastern treatment, including sumac, a spice from a dried berry that has a tart flavor. Serve as a warm side and enjoy it cold for lunch leftovers.

Pan-Roasted Romanesco with Golden Raisins, Tahini and Sumac 
From Gjelina: Cooking From Venice, California by Travis Lett

¼ cup tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
Kosher salt
2 medium heads romanesco, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch florets
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon ground sumac
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon)

In a small bowl, combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 2 tablespoons cold water. Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil and add water 1 tablespoon at a time until sauce is thin enough to drizzle; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a large frying pan coated with olive oil over high heat, cook romanesco, cut-side down, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes; turn over and cook until underside is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add raisins, season with kosher salt and cook, stirring, until raisins soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and steam, stirring, until romanesco is fork-tender; transfer to a serving platter and top with tahini sauce, sumac, sea salt and olive oil.