Romanesco, Fennel and Gorgonzola Gratin

22 Feb

Oh, fucking romanesco!

Romanesco

The lovely alien romanesco, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Yes, I just cursed over a vegetable. An alien vegetable, with spikes and spears and a high dollar price tag. One of Madame Fleiss’s kinda vegetables. I’m sorry, the former madame. It’s an impostor vegetable. It can’t decide who it wants to be. It wants to be green like broccoli yet clustered like cauliflower. It’s like the Gemini of vegetables. Except Geminis have more integrity than this alien impostor. We are both pretty to look at, though, I’ll give it that.

Anyway, I digress all over the place. Romanesco. I had never heard of romanesco before this week’s food challenge Item was announced. Apparently, it’s popular in Italian dishes, specifically Rome. I’ve never been to Italy. Italian men scare me. I really had no idea what to expect from the vegetable, though. Then I read my fellow challenger’s blog post and, I must admit, I was a tad bit sour about the PGT (pretty green thing). Nevertheless, I was determined to give it my all.

Sliced Romanesco Fennel (Sweet Anise)

I wanted to make something special out of this wanna be vegetable with all that bravado and poor follow through. And that’s exactly what I did. With gratin. Sweet potatoes. Gorgonzola. Fennel. Inspired by this recipe. It was delicious. Enough to make you curse. And I did. And then, I helped myself to another plateful. Fucking romanesco.

Gratin Layers Photo
What I Used

Layers
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, sliced into rounds
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cup anise, chopped
5 or 6 basil leaves, julienned
1 large head of romanesco
1 cup of gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp dijon mustard

Tomato-Marjoram sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes (I used roasted garlic)
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tsp fennel seed
2 cloves garlic

What I Did
Preheat the oven to 375  degrees. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Set aside to cool. Spray an 8×8 pan with olive oil spray (or butter if you prefer).

Create a layer at the bottom of the pan with the sweet potato rounds. Next layer with fennel, anise, and basil. Slice the romanesco into very large mounds and place them in layers on top of the previous ingredients. Finish by crumbling the gorgonzola on top and spreading out the butter 1/2 tbsp at a time over the top of the dish. Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and salt. I topped the gratin with romanesco clusters.

Whisk the milk ingredients together and pour on top of the dish. Place in the oven and back for 50 minutes, covered in foil. Uncover the dish and cook for another 10 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes and whip up the tomato sauce. Serve on the side of a slice.

Plated Romanesco

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