Cheesy Garlic Whole Roasted Romanesco
Cauliflower cheese is a classic family favourite. I’m personally not sold on the whole sauce thing though, I prefer it to just be melted cheese. But adding garlic to the mix is even better! I pretty much add garlic to everything (garlic roasted carrots, garlic roasted sprouts, garlic potatoes, garlic bread nachos…) so I don’t see why cauliflower should get off scot-free. Cue this cheesy garlic whole roasted Romanesco.
The Romanesco has to one of the most beautiful vegetables around; in fact, it’s design is actually an example of phyllotaxis – fractal patterns that occur in nature. It’s flavour is somewhere between a cauliflower and a broccoli and when you cut it in half it looks suspiciously like a Christmas tree… Especially when it’s topped with cheese! It looks like a snow-topped fir tree, making this the most accidentally festive dish I’ve ever created.
I roasted mine with leeks, but you can add whatever vegetables you fancy in with it. Similarly, you can use whatever cheese you like too! I usually use cheese from the Appleby Creamery but this time I used shavings of Grana Padano, just because that’s what I had in the fridge at the time. Cheddar obviously melts better, but parmesan-type cheeses create that kind of… cobweb of cheese… which I quite like too. So. Whatever floats your boat!
1 whole Romanesco
3 tbsp garlic paste
1 medium leek, washed and trimmed
1 or 2 generous handfuls of grated cheese
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Trim the leaves off the cauliflower, if it hasn’t already had them taken off. Don’t throw out the leaves though! Crispy roasted cauliflower leaves are a tasty snack! Also cut off most of the stalk – you can use this to make stock some other time.
Cut the leek into chunks. Place these into a deep oven-proof dish and place the whole head of Romanesco cauliflower on top.
In a bowl mix 3 tablespoons of garlic paste with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt. You want this all over the Romanesco; in every crevice! Drizzle with a little more oil, cover the dish with tin foil (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it) and pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes or until tender.
Remove your whole roasted Romanesco from the oven, top with cheese and then return to the oven at 200C, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Don’t worry if the tips of the florets go brown or burn slightly; I think that’s part of the charm!
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