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Keeping with the theme of fall, I decided to experiment with something new– that alien-type, aquatic looking creature that keeps popping up at the market. Were it not for the fact that it was with other produce, I would not think it was edible. The most fascinating part of Romanesco is its appearance. Its spiraled buds form a natural approximation of a fractal, where each bud in the spiral is composed of an identical series of smaller buds so that the Romanasco looks the same at all levels of inspection from bud, to floret to entire head.

There is something very life-like about the idea of repeating patterns, not just physical ones like branches and blood vessels and a series of connected rivers, but also in the seasons, our days, our thoughts. Autumn has always symbolized a new beginning to me, and every beginning brings with it old patterns that morph into new ones, but we are now seasoned from the years before to face the new challenges ahead.

As an homage to this, I figured out that the romanesco is in fact an edible flower from the family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. I didn’t know what to do with it at first, but it tastes very similar to cauliflower with a slightly nuttier, earthier flavor. You can use it as you would cauliflower in recipes, and it holds up to many different cooking methods. Being a sucker for beautiful pictures, I had to make this dish as an adaptation from Laura’s recent post on The First Mess.  The mild flavor of the romanesco screams to be added to a curry. It absorbs the flavors of the spices, while enhancing the flavor of the almonds and the lime. The romanesco gives the dish heft and texture without overwhelming the flavor. It’s a great complement to the chicken and shitake mushrooms (my addition) which bring their own texture and flavor into the mix.

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Chicken Curry with Romanesco Broccoli & Shitake Mushrooms adapted from the roasted romanesco curry with lemongrass + marcona almonds recipe on The First Mess

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of romanesco, broken into medium-sized pieces and florets
  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 1 cup of shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved + seeded
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled + sliced
  • peel of 1 lime
  • juice of half a lime
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 piece of lemongrass, softened with your knife or a spoon
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 2 tablespoon curry spice
  • 1 can of low fat coconut milk
  • big handful of almonds

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Directions:

Season the chicken on both sides with curry powder, salt and pepper (or garlic pepper), and cumin. Sear at high heat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes on each side. Lower the heat and let cook for another few minutes on each side until nearly fully cooked. Cut up into small slices when ready.

Meanwhile you can start making the curry sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the red onions and sauté them until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the hot pepper and ginger. Stir. Add the lime peels, cilantro (stems included), lemongrass and turmeric, cumin and curry. Sauté and stir the whole mix for a few minutes to toast the spices. Pour in the coconut milk and stir. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer it for about 10 minutes. Strain out whatever chunky bits you don’t want to sink your teeth into then add the romanesco, the chicken and the mushrooms. Let simmer for about another 10 minutes. Season the whole thing to your liking. Top with a handful of cilantro leaves and a handful of chopped almonds. Serve steaming hot.

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