Watch: Top tips for growing a perfect Romanesco cauliflower
While it’s from the same family as cauliflower and broccoli, Romanesco looks more like it would be at home on an alien planet!
Sometimes referred to as cauliflower or broccoli, depending on where you are, while they are all from the Brassica oleracea family, its beautiful bright green colour and symmetrical, almost modern art style, sets it apart from its more ordinary family members!
Someone who is a big fan of Romanesco, is keen gardener Jo Jo Yee, who also loves to cook delicious stir fries with her homegrown veggies.
Read more: The five easiest vegetables to grow at home
If you want to grow your own Romanesco, Yee says that thanks to caterpillars attacking them, they are a bit tricky to grow.
“If you're going to grow them, then what's really important is first of all, netting,” advised Yee.
“You can't get away without netting for your brassicas because the butterflies will be attacking them like there's no tomorrow. It's not the butterflies, of course, it's the eggs that they lay and then the caterpillars will start munching the leads. When they're established plants, it doesn't matter so much.
“But with the young plants, you really, really do need the netting to protect them because you will lose your brassicas that way”
Once a head forms in the centre, she advises feeding your plant with a high potash fertiliser, and if you don’t have a garden or much outdoors space, you can still grow some very cute versions in pots.
“You simply put them into a container… quite tightly, and you can grow them as micro cauliflowers,” says Yee. “There'll be small, but they look pretty cute!”
When it comes to the delicious bit, Yee says that Romanesco are great in a stir fry.
“Romanesco have been described as somewhere between cauliflower and broccoli, but I reckon they're sweeter and nuttier,” she says.
While they are delicious just thrown into the oven and roasted with spices, one of Yee’s favourite recipes is a stir fry with pork belly that she got from her mum. Her top tip is not to overcrowd the wok – you should be able to toss the cauliflower easily.
Oh, and don’t forget to soak and wash your Romanesco, especially if they’ve come straight from the garden, as caterpillars can hide…
Watch: How to make a Romanesco cauliflower and pork belly stir fry
CAULIFLOWER STIR FRY
3/4 to 1 head of Romanesco cauliflower (depending on size)
150-200g pork belly slices (boneless and skinless)
2 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
1 medium red chilli, roughly chopped
1 medium dried chilli, roughly chopped
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt
1) Slice up the pork into thin long strips (about the size of lardons).
2) Break up Romanesco into florets. Large florets should be halved. Try to keep the pieces roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
3) Soak Romanesco in some salted water for 20 minutes to remove any remaining pests (caterpillars are notoriously good at hiding!). Drain well.
4) Blanch the cauliflower: Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the florets and boil for 2 minutes (for a medium crunchy texture). For a softer texture, you can boil it for 3-4 minutes (the florets should not be mushy as they need to retain a firm texture for frying). Drain and set aside.
5) Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the pork strips in a single layer and fry until golden brown and slightly crisp. Add garlic, fresh and dried chillies and stir fry for 10 seconds until fragrant (do not allow garlic to burn). Add Romanesco and spring onions and toss in the pan for 2 minutes. Add light soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil and toss to coat florets, for 30 seconds. Add sea salt to taste. Remove from heat.
Watch: Jo Jo Yee creates a great dish with courgettes
Another veggie that Yee loves to grow is courgettes. She advises picking them when they’re smaller as it means they’re more fleshy and less watery, which makes them perfect for this delicious lemongrass stir fry!
SIZZLING COURGETTES WITH LEMONGRASS AND PORK BELLY
3 small courgettes (roughly equivalent to 2 shop-bought courgettes)
150g-200g pork belly, skinless and boneless
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and cut into thin long strips
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1) Slice up the pork into thin strips (about the size of lardons).
2) Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat.
3) Add pork belly and fry until golden brown and crisp.
4) Add garlic, chilli and lemongrass and fry for 30 seconds.
5) Add courgette pieces and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes (making sure to keep ingredients moving in the wok).
6) Add fish sauce and sugar. Stir-fry until courgette pieces are tender but still with a slight crunch. Taste-test before serving, adding sea salt if needed.
Watch: Jo Jo Yee shares her top tips for how to grow the perfect cucumber