If you whisper “what’s that?” to Marco very quickly and excitedly, he goes nuts.  He bounds up to the livingroom window and looks up and down the street growling and wuffing ready to protect us from those crazy neighbourhood cats or the odd buggy wielding mother.  It’s a habit we shouldn’t encourage really but I couldn’t help but laugh this weekend when David walked into the kitchen and spotted the above vegetable.  “Whassat?” he asked loudly and Marco went mental. 

Fair question though.  Romanesco do look odd with their strange geometric patterns and almost luminous green colouring.  If martians had veg, I reckon they’d look like this.

In actual fact, romanesco do not have an intergalactic ancestry; they are part of the brassica family and can best be described as a funky cross between brocolli and cauliflower.  As a fan of both of these vegetables and as someone who appreciates pretty food, I am always excited to find a romanesco on sale.  More often than not, it ends up being cooked in the following way.

 A fabulous end for a fabulous veg, I think.  🙂


Romanesco with Coriander and Chilli (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey)

(serves four as a side dish – two as a main)

1 large head of romanesco or brocolli or cauliflower

Large thumb of ginger, chopped roughly

2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly

1 tblspn ghee

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 hot chilli, chopped

Big handful of coriander, chopped roughly

1 tspn cumin

1 tblspn coriander

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt to taste

  • Cut the romanesco into florets, halving any particularly large ones.  Rinse and set aside.
  • Whizz the ginger, garlic and turmeric in a blender with a little water to create a paste.
  • Heat the ghee over a medium-high heat and add the ginger paste.  Stir and cook constantly for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chilli and coriander.  Cook for another minute.
  • Add cauliflower and the rest of the spices and lemon juice.  Stir well to combine then add 30 mls of water. 
  • Cook over a high heat for a few more minutes then reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pan.  Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Season very carefully and serve.

19 thoughts on “Whassssat?

  1. What happens to the colour when you cook it this way? Your recipe sounds yummy and although I don’t have a romanesco here in Cairo I do have two cauliflowers so shall try it tomorrow. Can’t believe you have snow already!

  2. I love romanesco, they are such beautiful vegetables. I managed to buy one at the weekend and spent ages just looking at the pretty patterns…I need to get out more!

  3. Ha, ha, Malte is the same when indoors (he never barks when out walking or meeting other dogs), although he doesn’t respond to a sentence like that but to his own sublime – according to himself that is – hearing…;)

    The romanesco is gorgeous, I will have a look in my supermarket because this recipe sounds fab!

  4. I love broccoli, but I don’t have the same feelings for cauliflower, so I’ve always avoided romanesco at the markets for fear of its cauliflowerness. But, it is just so pretty that someday I’m going to have to try it. Happy Monday!

  5. What a beautiful looking vegetable! I have a dog who goes mental when you whisper Cattsss! at him. I reckon it’s the hissing sound that drives them wild. I wonder why?!


  6. romanesco is such a beautiful psychedelic vegetable and for some reason I have never come across one – I must make more of an effort to look out for one and cook it up a la Jaffrey – I love her recipes. Is it in the curry bible? I love that book.

  7. What a fabulous veggie! I have seen it on the web but have not found it at our market yet. Great photos! Mother nature outdid herself on that veggie!
    Too fun about Marco! Our last English Bulldog would do the same thing when we said Whasssat! Maybe it is a dog thing! I used to say it and then run with him through the house. I am not sure who was being more entertained!!!!

  8. Gen – Lol! Rufus would lick a stranger to death though.

    Shona – The colour actually stays pretty bright and the pretty patterns aren’t lost either. It’s lovely. 🙂

    Jules – You and me both!

    Jenn – October/November are when its in season so I’m going to make the most of it.

    Pia – No, Marco doesn’t bark outside of the house either. It’s a guard dog thing, I think.

    Salena – Thank you!

    Christina – I love them both. Broccoli more though and romanesco is more like it, I think.

    Johanna – I’ve never seen it in a supermarket, only smaller market stalls.

    CatsPuke – Dunno… Interesting name, BTW!

    Sylvie – Oh do. 🙂

    Wheatless – Had to look that up!

    Helen – No, it’s from The Essential Madhur Jaffrey. Great book.

    Robin – Most things are better with coriander and chilli!

    Deb – Aren’t they funny creatures?

  9. I never saw one of these until I moved to Belgium! I was so impressed by the geometric patterns that the flavour would never live up to my awe with it! Although it was still very tasty!

  10. I found this at my farmers’ market today. I remembered it from this post, and I was so pleased that I think the lady I bought it from was wondering why I was so happy about a vegetable. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

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