Roasted Romanesco with a Raisin-Caper Vinaigrette

It’s no secret that I have a vast cookbook collection. It grows monthly with new found friends who live on my shelves and immediately become part of the furniture and the family. And while these books inspire, broaden the offerings from the kitchen and teach wonderful new dishes and ideas, they are not all game changers.

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Every once in a while a cookbook enters my life and opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Six Seasons was introduced to me one morning as I marched through the park, listening to one of my favourite podcasts. Before Adam Rapoport and his panel had completed their featured roundup of the best summer vegetables, Joshua McFadden’s book was purchased and en route to my door. 

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It was clear on first glance that this book was probably going to live on the game changer bookshelf in the kitchen (a little insight into my book categorisation system). Six Seasons is not alone in the recent flurry of vegetable based cookbooks, but its simple layout of ideas and available ingredients for every season (and the ones in between), makes it extremely user friendly. It is packed with foolproof, well written recipes for inspired sauces, pickles and dishes bursting with colour and flavour, with pages of adaptable ideas for seasonal ingredients served as either a side or as a stand alone vegetarian feast. 

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This Raisin-Caper Vinaigrette was the first recipe I made from his book. It was immediately added to our Pump Street Pop Up menu as the secret sauce on our grilled courgettes. Basically, this vinaigrette is delicious on anything from grilled vegetables, to any member of the broccoli and cauliflower family, to winter greens, to robust salads to roasted fish and meat, to sandwiches. Happy to sit in the fridge for three weeks, this is our newest favourite fridge basic to have on hand at all times. 

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The anchovies (not in the title so as not to scare anyone away) gives this vinaigrette/sauce the essential umami flavour and alongside the tanginess of the capers and the sweetness of the golden raisins it makes your tongue sing. I changed the recipe slightly, replacing the balsamic vinegar in Joshua’s original recipe to red wine vinegar. This balanced the sweetness of the raisins (plus I have a “thing” about balsamic vinaigrettes, but that’s for another time). I also like to use confit garlic instead of raw garlic in the dressing whenever there is any on hand (which is hopefully always), snuck in some Aleppo pepper, which I add to every single savoury dish possible and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

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Teamed up with romanesco, the most architectural of all vegetables, roasted on on highest heat for shortest time imaginable a la Gjelina (highest rank on the game changer book shelf), this is the side dish of the moment either hot or room temperature or simply in a bowl with a little brown rice and fresh greens for and emergency lunch. 

All photos in this post by Jeremy Coleman

Roasted Romanesco with a Raisin - Caper Vinaigrette

The method for roasting the romanesco comes from Travis Lett in his Gjelina cookbook which is one of my absolute kitchen bibles. Teamed with the Raisin Caper Vinaigrette which I adapted from Joshua McFadden’s book Six Seasons this is the go-to dish of the moment. 

Caper - Raisin Vinaigrette

50g (1/3 cup) golden raisins

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, peeled (use confit garlic if you have any to hand)

3 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained

one 50g tin (2oz) anchovy fillets, drained

1 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp chili flakes

small (15g-20g) bunch of parsley, stems removed

80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil

juice of half a lemon

In a little bowl, cover the raisins with the vinegar and allow to sit for about half an hour until they are plump and soft.

In a food processor, chop the garlic, and then add the capers, anchovies, Aleppo pepper and parsley. Pulse until you have a coarse paste, scraping down the bowl a couple of times as necessary. Add the raisin and vinegar mixture and pulse until blended but still coarse.

Scrape the mixture from the food processor into a bowl and whisk through the olive oil, followed by the lemon juice, making a chunky dressing. 

Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary (remember the capers and anchovies are already quite salty). 

(Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for unto 3 weeks. You may need to loosen it with a little more olive oil as it sits).

Roasted Romanesco 

I large romanesco (or cauliflower)

1-2 tbsp olive oil or confit garlic oil

good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 250C

Cut the romanesco into wedges. Slice the romanesco in half through the centre, then into quarters, and finally into 8 wedges (or you can cut into florets). We like to leave some of the outer leaves as they crisp up beautifully.

In a large bowl, coat the romanesco with a good drizzle of confit garlic oil (or olive oil), salt and pepper and toss to fully coat in the seasoning. Add a little more olive oil if needed.

Heat a large oven safe frying pan over high heat. Add the romanesco in one layer and cook for 3-5 minutes until it is starting to brown.

Turn the pieces over in the pan, transfer to the oven and roast the for 7-10 minutes in the hot oven. Turn with a spatula and roast for a further 2-3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place back on the hob for another minute or two. Add the lemon zest, taste and add a little more salt and pepper if necessary.