12/25/2020: Merry Christmas! As I write this, it’s Christmas morning and I’m excited to share this recipe with you. My family isn’t gathering for Christmas this year since we’re socially-distancing to stay safe, but this is the “star” dish I would've been the most excited about preparing and sharing with them. Maybe by Easter 2021 we can enjoy a holiday meal together again.
Oysters contain vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, plus immunity-boosting protein, zinc, selenium, iron and vitamin D. They’re a low-calorie food—six medium Eastern oysters (i.e. the kind from the Chesapeake Bay) contain under 50 calories. Rosemary is the flavor I notice the most in this honey Aleppo sauce, while honey complements the oysters’ brininess with its sweet flavor. The Aleppo pepper gives these saltwater bivalves a little punch, but it’s not overly spicy and won’t overpower them nor singe your taste buds. If there's one item I discovered at Trader Joe's in 2020 that I must have on-hand at all times, it's the Trader Joe's Honey Aleppo Sauce, no question. Baking the oysters in olive oil (the first ingredient in the honey Aleppo sauce) is a healthier option than frying them.
6 medium-size oysters, out of their shells, washed & drained
Approx. 5 TBSP Trader Joe’s Honey Aleppo Sauce
Approx. 1 oz. Trader Joe’s Japanese Style Panko Breadcrumbs (approx. 1/7th of the bag)
1/3 tsp. California garlic powder
Dash of ground Himalayan pink sea salt crystals (to taste)
Dash of freshly ground black peppercorns (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 405 degrees F. Marinate the oysters in the Trader Joe’s honey Aleppo sauce for 5-10 minutes. Put the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow dish suitable for dipping the oysters into. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper to the breadcrumbs. (Go easy on the salt!) Dip the oysters in the panko breadcrumb mixture, covering both sides of each oyster. Place the oysters on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Add panko to any spots that became bare in moving the oysters. Bake the oysters for 20-25 minutes at 405 degrees F, until most of the panko is golden brown. Allow to cool down for a couple minutes, and enjoy!
Makes 1 serving--a perfect snack or appetizer!
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Romanesco broccoli may be intimidating at first because of its intricate fractal shape. However, don't fear the Romanesco--just get it! Romanesco broccoli doesn't have an extraordinary taste despite its dramatic display of mathematical beauty and bright green color. It tastes like cauliflower and broccoli, with a texture similar to both. A recipe for either cauliflower or broccoli would work with Romanesco broccoli, so perhaps a favorite recipe for either one would be a good place to start your Romanesco exploration. I've included a simple recipe below that I came up with and liked.
Romanesque broccoli is part of the cruciferous family, and is known by other names such as Romanesque cauliflower, broccoflower, and caulibroc. The cruciferous family of vegetables also includes brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, cabbage, collard greens, and other species, all of which are rich in nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and fiber. Eating cruciferous vegetables may have a positive effect on reducing one's cancer risk, or it may be that people who eat cruciferous veggies have other traits or behaviors that reduce their cancer risk, or both. Cruciferous vegetables such as Romanesque broccoli fall into the "dark-green" category of vegetables.
This gorgeous vegetable can be found fresh at grocery stores, specialty food retailers such as Trader Joe's, farmers' markets and stands, and the like. (Don't waste time looking for it frozen or canned.) Its growing season is comparatively short, so when you see it, buy it, as it won't be around for long--usually in the fall in the U.S. At specialty food retailers such as Trader Joe's, you'll typically only find it available for a day or two in their fresh produce section. Your best bet for the freshest veggies is your local farmers' market or farm stand/farm store. As I publish this, it's late in the season but this post will be ready for reference next year if the Romanesco has come and gone. Who knows, though, it's been an usually warm fall here in Maryland.
You'll want to allow a few extra minutes to break down your Romanesco broccoli in a manner that preserves its intricate fractal pattern, rather than "ricing" it or chopping it up too much. Here are some photos of how I broke down and roasted a half of a head of Romanesco broccoli. The other half, I shared with my mother (the week of Thanksgiving). I'm pleased to say when I pulled it out of my cooler she was perplexed--she'd never seen nor heard of it before, despite her considerable cooking experience and her love of Italy, Rome, and all things beautiful. I'm glad to have been able to share with her something new, and locally-grown from my rural, bay-side community.
Wash, drain, and pat the Romanesco broccoli dry. If any tips of the florets have grey spots, cut them off. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces in the shapes that you like the best. Combine the EVOO, lime juice, garlic, and black pepper in dish or a freezer bag, then add the broccoli and gently cover it in the mixture. Place broccoli pieces on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, being sure to not crowd the pan. Roast it at 420 degrees* F for 20 minutes or until it starts to brown.
Allow to cool down for several minutes, serve, and enjoy! Store any unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat within 7 days.
*Parchment paper withstands heat up to 425 degrees F which is why I often roast items at 420 degrees F. I prefer to not use aluminum foil to cook.
#Romanesquebroccoli #Romanesquecauliflower #broccoflower #caulibroc #cruciferous #romanesco #fractalvegetable