From the Land 2.6

food for thought

full share: bean sprouts, baby spinach, romanesco, Valentine radishes, mizuna, spaghetti squash, hakurei turnips, and navel oranges!

partial share: bean sprouts, baby spinach, romanesco, and Valentine radishes!

veg of the week

romanesco: Brassica oleracea

Is it cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli? People in Germany, France, and England, respectively, all have different names for this beautiful “broccoli Romanesco” (or “Roman cauliflower”) that is a variant form of cauliflower and a gorgeous representation of natural fractals. It was first documented in Italy in the 16th century, but only reached the international market in the early 1990s. Don’t be put off by this alien creature! It is surprisingly sweet, tender like cauliflower, but with a denser texture that holds up well to different cooking methods. The nutty taste lends itself well to both cooking or eating raw.

Uses: Romanesco is very versatile: try it steamed or boiled, and served with a splash of lemon and olive oil; or blanched and sauteed and mixed with pasta, olive oil, garlic, and a little tomato sauce for a simple treat; or roast with olive oil and garlic and serve as a side dish. Don’t forget to top with Parmesan cheese!

Nutrition: Similar to cauliflower but firmer in texture, romanesco is very digestible (more so than cauliflower) and is rich in zinc, which promotes full range of taste in the mouth, and vitamin C, which deteriorates quickly after harvest, so eat as soon as possible. It is also rich in dietary fiber and potassium.

To store: Put whole head into tightly sealed plastic bag and store in the fridge.

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whey

I wrote last week that we would soon begin and document our fermentation experiment. I intended to compare fermenting three batches of the same vegetable with saltwater brine, whey, and vegetable fermenting culture. The saltwater brine is easy to make, Homesteaders Supply sent over some fermenting culture, and so we were just lacking the whey. What to do? – make some!

I began with some leftover raw cow milk from our milk share last week. According to Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, whey is easy to make by simply leaving raw milk at room temperature for between 1 and 4 days. The milk will separate into white curds and yellowish whey. So far (after 1 day) ours just looks like a nice layer of cream on top of skim milk, but we will begin to see the cream curdle over the next couple of days. It must remain at least 72 degrees, so this project is happening in my warm office!

Inline image 1

Once curdled, we’ll run the curds and whey through cheesecloth, catching the whey in a bowl below. Cover and let sit for several hours. Then tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang it until it stops draining. Voila: curds and whey!

As you can see, we will end up with way more whey than we need for our fermenting experiment, which is only a couple of tablespoons! Fortunately, whey is useful for many things besides vegetable fermentations (like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi), such as soaked pancakes or lacto-fermented sauces like ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing, and to soak flour, grains, rice or beans in! We already know that lactofermented vegetables aid digestion and release valuable nutrients. Using whey to soak grains or beans in does something similar: it gets rid of the antinutrients and releases the full nutritional potential of the grain! Fallon recommends always soaking flour grains in water or water-whey combo before using, unless you’re sprouted grains.

You can make whey in larger batches like we’re doing, and it will keep in your refrigerator for up to 6 months. And the byproduct, the curds, are also useful and delicious! Fallon calls it “cream cheese” and recommends mashing until creamy and using as cream cheese or sour cream (depending on the consistency).

For more info on whey, check out Nourishing Traditions, or The Nourishing Cook website, dedicated to all 773 recipes from Nourishing Tradition.

Next week we’ll chop up the veggies (any recommendations?) and start our fermentation experiment!

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miso almond romanesco
adapted from habeas, brulee
serves 4-6 as side dish

  • 1 large head romanesco
  • 1/8 C white miso
  • 1 tsp Korean anchovy sauce
  • 1 tsp Korean red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp Vietnamese caramel sauce
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

Cut the romanesco into individual florets, cutting the larger florets in half. Discard the stem and leaves.

Stir together the miso, anchovy sauce, red pepper flakes, Vietnamese caramel, and 1/8 C water until smooth.

In a wok, heat 2 tbsp butter on high until it melts and sizzles. Add the romanesco and saute until browned all over. Let it sear a bit; that will only make it taste better. Stir in the water and garlic and simmer until the water is nearly gone. Stir in the almonds and cook a minute more. Stir in the sauce and serve.

With a typical home wok, it is best to do this in two batches so your romanesco actually sears instead of merely steaming when you cook it.

wheatberries with romanesco, butternut squash, and preserved lemon
adapted from cayuga st. kitchen
serves 8

    • 1 3/4 cup wheat berries
    • 5 cups water
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 2 romanesco, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
    • 1 butternut squash, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
    • 6 scallions, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
    • 1/4 ground cinnamon
    • 1 preserved lemon
    • 1 teaspoon preserved lemon juice
    • 1 cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 475.

In a colander, rinse the wheat berries (after soaking, of course!). Add them to a medium pot with the water and cinnamon sticks. bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook the wheat berries for about 60-75 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed.

On a baking sheet, toss the romanesco, butternut squash and scallions with the olive oil and sea salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.
Meanwhile, put the almonds in a small dry pan and toast them over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the almonds and ground cinnamon to the serving dish and toss.

Rinse the preserved lemon under water to remove some of the salt. Remove the flesh from the lemon and set aside. Mince the rind and add to the serving dish. Over the serving dish, squeeze the liquid out of the flesh with a lemon squeezer or through a colander. Add the extra preserved lemon juice and toss again.

When the wheat berries are done, remove the cinnamon sticks and drain the wheat berries in a colander. Toss in with the romanesco and butternut squash.
Add the parsley leaves last for one final toss to this bright dish!
warm romanesco salad
adapted from in a village called segur le chateau
serves 2 as main dish or 4 as side

  • one head romanesco
  • 10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 T soft goats cheese
  • 3 T olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 t wholegrain mustard
  • ground black pepper

Chop the romanesco and steam until al dente.

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and black pepper in a jar and shake until blended.

In a large bowl, mix the romanesco, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese and dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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