Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Vinaigrette

Par-boiling before roasting results in deeply bronzed and crisp Romanesco halves.
Par-boiling before roasting results in deeply bronzed and crisp Romanesco halves.

It’s easy to be in awe of “Top Chef Canada” host Eden Grinshpan.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in London, she didn’t parlay that into a stint at any fancy restaurant. Instead, she went to volunteer at an orphanage in India, where she reopened a cafe to raise money and awareness about the children there.

Upon returning to New York, she co-created a Cooking Channel show, “Eden Eats,” which explored the global culinary scene. She even partnered for a spell on a fast-casual Middle Eastern cafe, DEZ, in New York.

This year, she debuted her first cookbook, “Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, that was written with Rachel Holtzman.

On top of all that, she also appears to have the most enviable collection of high-waist jeans around. Hey, just saying.

Of Israeli heritage, Grinshpan’s more than 100 recipes are colorful, playful, and accessible just like her personality. Middle Eastern cuisine as seen through her lens comes in such fun forms as “Sunchoke Hummus,” “Sesame Schnitzel Sandwich with Harissa Honey and Tartar Slaw,” “Sumac-Roasted Snapper with Lime Yogurt,” and “Salted Halvah Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

I can never resist crisp, charred veggies, so I zeroed in right away on “Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Sauce.”

The recipe calls for one large Romanesco, cut into halves. I had two small ones, so that’s what I went with. You par-boil the Romanesco briefly, let the halves air dry, then roast in a very hot oven. Because my Romanesco were smaller, I blanched them for only 3 minutes, rather than the original 5 minutes, which I noted in the recipe below.

The striking fractal shape of Romanesco.
The striking fractal shape of Romanesco.

If you’ve ever made smashed potatoes, in which the small, whole taters are first boiled before smashed and browned in a frying pan, then you know how this method creates an exceptionally crisp exterior. Same for the Romanesco. Boiling briefly helps soften the exterior to allow the heat of the oven to penetrate more quickly and evenly.

You end up with the cut halves deeply bronzed as if they’ve just gotten a perfect tropical suntan. Their very outer edges get as crisp as potato chips, too.

Look how gorgeously golden they get when roasted.
Look how gorgeously golden they get when roasted.

Capers are bloomed in a hot pan to infuse their flavor into olive oil, as well as to round off their briny perkiness a tad. The olive oil-capers get whisked with lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, and grated garlic, then drizzled over the roasted Romanesco. Sprinkle on fresh dill, lemon zest, and toasted pistachios before digging in.

With cauliflower “steaks” so popular now as plant-based suppers, the roasted Romanesco could stand in likewise for an entree. Or as a side dish to most any grilled protein.

It’s no wallflower, but a dish with bold impact, that’s loaded with assertive tangy and salty notes, with distinctive hits of citrus and anise from the feathery dill fronds.

Indeed, it’s a dish worthy of eating out loud.

Crispy, crunchy, nutty, tangy, salty, and herbaceous.
Crispy, crunchy, nutty, tangy, salty, and herbaceous.

Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Vinaigrette

(Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main)

1 large head Romanesco (or broccoli or cauliflower), halved through the core (see Note if you use 2 small Romanesco instead.)

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons capers, drained

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 garlic clove, grated

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving

1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

Grated lemon zest, for serving

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently submerge the Romanesco halves in the water (you want them to keep their shape), cover, and boil for 5 minutes. (Note: If using two small Romanesco instead of one large one, boil for only 3 minutes.) Carefully transfer the Romanesco to a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels and let it air-dry until the steam has dissipated, about 20 minutes. Don’t skimp on this step; a still-steamy and damp Romanesco won’t crisp up in the oven.

Place the Romanesco on a baking sheet, cut-sides down. Drizzle all over with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season WELL with salt. Roast until the cut sides are golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Flip and roast until the Romanesco is golden all over and even a little charred in some places, another 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily slide a knife through the middle and it’s caramelized and lightly charred in some places. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the capers (careful, they might sputter) and cook until they’re lightly golden and crispy, about 3 minutes. They will open up a bit and look like flowers. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and garlic. Slowly stream in the capers and oil from the pan as you continue whisking. Season with salt to taste and fold in the dill.

Place the Romanesco on a serving plate. Pour the caper vinaigrette over the Romanesco and garnish with dill, the pistachios, and lemon zest.

From “Eating Out Loud” by Eden Grinshpan with Rachel Holtzman

More Recipes for Caper Lovers: Fish Cakes with Caper-Parsley Sauce

And: Monkfish with Caper Butter

And: Chilled Smoked Salmon Spaghetti with Capers and Avocado

And: Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Capers Over Linguine

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2 comments

  • Danke für das tolle Rezept, die Fotos sehen großartig aus.
    Viele Grüße,
    Jesse-Gabriel
    Thanks for the great recipe, the photos look great.
    Many greetings,
    Jesse-Gabriel

  • Hi Jesse-Gabriel: You’re most welcome. Enjoy!

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