I'll be the first to tell you that I adore spring and all that comes with it - robins, hyacinths, strawberries and so much more. Summer is also a delight since I love to garden, swim and visit the seashore. The Fall is a stunner here too with glorious foliage, pumpkin stands and apple festivals. But winter calls to me as well, even with the cold weather and barren trees in the Northeast U.S. Aside from transportation problems (like being stuck in Chicago during a snowstorm last weekend), winter presents opportunities for skiing, for hunkering down by the fire with a good book, and for cooking soups, stews and vegetables associated with cold weather, like the three I'm presenting in this post.
This broccoli romanesco is one of them. I admit, it's not easy to find where I live, so when I saw it last week at the local health food store, I all but clapped my hands in jubilation. It's something that omnipresent in Italian food markets, but for some reason, it's not as well known here. I hope that's about to change. I've told you about it before when my blog was fairly new, on a post you can find here, featuring pasta and broccoli romanesco. But this time I wanted to cook it whole and drizzle it with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Nestled into polenta, it made a satisfying vegetarian lunch.
Here's what it looks like inside. Even though its name is broccoli romanesco, the taste is closer to cauliflower than broccoli.
Beets are another one of my favorites - whether cold in a salad - or warm in a sauce with orange segments. Be warned that the orange segments will turn pink once the beet sauce hits them.
See.....I told ya'. But they're kind of pretty that way too.
OK, now here's the morning quiz for you. What's this vegetable? Trick question.
They look like parsnips, right? Well that would have been a good guess, but they're not. They're parsley root - something I had never heard of much less cooked. So naturally I had to try them. The taste is vaguely reminiscent of parsley - but more like a carrot crossed with celery. Apparently, parsley root has lots of salubrious properties. (That means it's good for you.) It's a blood purifier, a diuretic, useful in liver and gall bladder problems and helps prevent flatulence (you can look that up yourself.)
I sliced them up like French fries, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and roasted them at a high heat.
Maybe I left them in a bit too long on one side, but they were delicious nonetheless. Who says that French fries have to be made just with potatoes?
Printable recipes here
Trim the bottom leaves off, then cut a little bit into the core from the bottom, to help it cook more evenly. Place a little water in a saucepan - enough so that it comes up about 1/2 inch. Then place the entire head of the broccoli romanesco into the water. Cover and cook for about five to ten minutes, testing to pierce with a fork. It should not be crunchy, but soft enough to pierce easily. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 T. olive oil with a clove of garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes. Add some salt and pepper, then pour over the head of broccoli romano that you serve over polenta, noodles, or just by itself. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Beets and Orange Sauce
Boil or roast one large beet or two small beets until tender. (To roast, rub with oil and put in a small oven-proof dish at 350 degrees, checking after 45 minutes to see if it's cooked.) Peel the outer skin off the beet (I do this on a dish, not on my cutting board, since it's so hard to get the stain off wood, but easy to clean a plate.) Slice the beet. In a small saucepan, place 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 tsp. butter, 2 T. red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar or white vinegar). Add the sliced beets and heat them together with the liquids. In a small cup, mix 1 t. cornstarch with a 2 T. water. Add to the beets and heat until the sauce thickens. If it's too thick, add more water or some more orange juice. Section one large orange and just before serving, stir them into the warm beets. Warning: If you do this more than a minute or two before serving, the oranges will disintegrate into the sauce.
Parsley Root Fries
Trim the parsley root and peel the outer layer. Slice into matchsticks and place on a cookie sheet. Dribble a little olive oil over them, give them a good shake of salt and pepper, then sprinkle some chopped rosemary over them. Roast at 425 degrees, checking after 5 minutes. Turn them over and roast another 5 minutes, or until browned.