Romanesco alla Diavola

Romanesco broccoli is an edible flower with distinctive pointy green florets. In addition to its peculiar aesthetic, romanesco’s appeal is its firm texture and earthy flavor. It is surprisingly sweet when cooked tender, like cauliflower but with a denser texture that holds up to lots of cooking methods (continue reading about Romanesco here).


Serves 8 to 10 people as a side dish

1 large or 2 medium heads (about 2 pounds) Romanesco (or regular cauliflower)

1 cup brine-cured green olives, pitted

3 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained

¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

1/3 cup plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes

Kosher or sea salt

10 garlic cloves



Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Cut the Romanesco into small florets, submerge them in the ice water, and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, combine the olives, capers, parsley, and lemon zest on a chopping board, and chop together until minced.


In a small pot, heat the 1/3 cup oil and the red pepper flakes over medium-low heat until hot. Remove from the heat, and stir in the olive mixture, 1 teaspoon salt, and the lemon juice. Set aside.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drain the Romanesco from its ice bath, drop it into the boiling water, and add the garlic cloves. Cook until the florets are just tender, 5 minutes. Drain well, and separate out the garlic cloves. Add the cooked garlic cloves to the olive-caper dressing.


Place the dressing in a large bowl, add the Romanesco, and toss well. Taste, and add more salt, red pepper flakes, and/or lemon juice as needed.


Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzled with the remaining olive oil. If serving at room temperature, adjust the seasoning again before drizzling with oil.


Recipe courtesy of Molto Batali (ecco 2011)

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