Romanesco Cauliflower–Nature’s Geometric Vegetable

Cauliflower, Romanesco 2 Romanesco cauliflower is one of the most beautiful vegetables in the vegetable kingdom, a kind of light green colored cauliflower that is a manifestation from nature of what is known in geometry as a Mandelbrot fractal, that is, a complex geometric shape that exhibits the property of self‑similarity, meaning that a small portion of it looks like a scaled down version of the whole.  It is also called Roman broccoli.  There are two methods of cooking romanesco cauliflower.  One can either par-boil the cauliflower first or one can cook it directly in the pan, adding small amounts of water so it steams.  For presentation purposes, I recommend cooking the cauliflower whole, then spooning the dressing over it and serving, letting diners break it into parts.

One 1 ½-pound romanesco cauliflower

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 large dried red chile, broken in half

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Salt lightly and add the cauliflower and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.  Drain and place in a shallow serving bowl and season with salt.

2. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat the olive oil with the garlic and chile over medium heat until sizzling.  Remove and discard the garlic and chile.  Spoon this dressing over the cauliflower and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

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