There are some things that I can’t get enough of. Broccolo Romanesco is one of them. This strange looking, fractile bright green cruciferous vegetable is some sort of mash up between cauliflower and broccoli. But unlike broccoli, it doesn’t have that tendency to go all mushy. And unlike cauliflower….well, isn’t cauliflower just a wee bit boring in its smooth, white look and cabbagey taste?
Another thing I can’t ever get enough of? Really good anchovies. I’m not talking about those wimpy filets that seem to fall apart at the lightest touch, and only really taste of salt. I’m talking about big, fat, thick anchovies from Sicily or Spain that have been packed into a jar full of olive oil. Rather than just taste like salt, they are the essence of the briny sea where they come from. Chewy, firm and meaty, they hold their own in almost any dish, and always make things better.
And finally, on my hit list, are Meyer lemons. We have one small tree which we coddle on our terrace, so that it produces one small crop every winter. At which point I try to work them into almost everything possible. Not just the juice, but also the flesh and the fragrant, floral rind.
Naturally, one of my go to dishes this month is one that combines all three of these delicious elements.
It really couldn’t be simpler, or more delicious. The broccolo is briefly steamed, just enough to cook it through. I then make a dressing of olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, grated rind and enough chopped anchovies to satisfy even my absurd attraction for these little fishies.
I toss everything together while the broccolo is still warm, which really gives the anchovies and Meyer lemon a chance to shine. The longer you let it sit, the better it gets. I prefer the dish room temperature, which is why I’m calling it a salad. And if you do put it in the fridge, make sure you let it come back to room temperature before digging in.
broccolo romano, meyer lemon and anchovy salad
1 medium head of broccolo romano*
1 Meyer lemon, untreated
8 big anchovy fillets
1/4 cup fruity olive oil
*if you can’t find broccolo romano you have my permission to use cauliflower
Peel the Meyer lemon, using a vegetable peeler. Make sure not to get any of the white pith. Chop finely and place in a small bowl.
Chop the anchovy fillets into 1/4 inch sized pieces. Place in bowl with lemon peel.
Add the olive oil, and the juice from the Meyer Lemon. Stir. Let sit for at least a half hour, and up to 2 hours, to let the flavors blend.
Divide the broccolo into small, bit sized, florets. Try to keep them intact, since they are so great looking. Steam them for about 5 minutes.
Place the still hot broccolo in a wide, shallow bowl. Pour on the dressing and toss carefully. Let come to room temperature and serve. It’s even better the next day, but make sure you let it come to room temp before serving.