Whole Roasted Romanesco with Herby Ranch & Fried Leeks

20 minutes prep 45-60 minutes active cooking 1 hour + 5 minutes total
Makes 2-4 servings

This simple dish is visually stunning...

and works great as either a side to proteins (we love it with a steak) or as an impressive main. To cut down on roasting time, and get as much flavor into the romanesco as possible, we rely on a trick we learned from Bay Area chef Damon Little. Before roasting, poach the romanesco in aggressively seasoned water; we like to use instant dashi fortified with a good amount of sea salt. Remember, you’re only poaching for a few minutes, so you want the liquid to impart a big amount of flavor in a small amount of time.

And bear in mind that what makes this recipe great is its adaptability: as long as the romanesco is dressed in something delicious (and topped with something crunchy), you should be golden. Here, we’ve opted for a quick herby ranch dressing and fried leeks, but a fragrant salsa verde would be great, and you could swap the leeks for breadcrumbs, bacon bits, or toasted pepitas.

What You'll Need


For the shopping list

  • 1 whole Romanesco cauliflower
  • 1 leek
  • 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 instant dashi packets
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • Dried Thyme to taste

From our shop

For frying and as needed,  Novo Frantoio
$27.00– Tuscany - Italy
1/4 cup of  Mayo
$7.00– Greenville - South Carolina
To taste,  Oregano
$9.00– Pantelleria - Sicily
1 teaspoon + more as needed of  Purple Stripe Garlic
$10.00– Cao Bằng - Vietnam
1 teaspoon + more as needed of  Toasted Onion Powder
$10.00– Vĩnh Phúc - Vietnam
To taste,  Italian Fine Sea Salt
$7.00– Trapani - Sicily
To taste, freshly ground  Aranya Peppercorns
$12.00– Oakland - California


From the kitchen

  • Large stock pot
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Sharp paring knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Plate and paper towels (for draining fried leeks)
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons

What you'll have to do

For the Romanesco

Step 1 – Preheat your oven to 400º

Step 2 – Using the paring knife, trim the bottom leaves and as much of the core of the romanesco as possible while keeping it intact

Step 3 – Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 instant dashi packets and several tablespoons of kosher salt. The water should taste like the ocean.

Step 4 – Oil a sheet pan. When the water is boiling, slowly add the whole romanesco to the pot and poach for 3-5 minutes. Remove the romanesco and place on the sheet pan.

Step 5 – Roast romanesco in the oven at 400º for 30 minutes, and test with a knife; there should be little to no resistance. While the romanesco roasts, fry your chopped leeks

For the leeks

Step 1 – Trim leeks, split lengthwise, and soak in cool water for 10 minutes to remove dirt.

Step 2 – Set a cast iron or other heavy-bottom skillet over high heat and add at least an inch of olive oil.

Step 3 – Remove the leeks from the water, rinse, pat dry, and slice crosswise.

Step 4 – Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil; when it reaches 375º, the leeks are ready to fry.

Step 5 – Working in batches, fry the leeks until lightly but uniformly browned. Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, transfer the leeks to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

For the herby ranch

To a large mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of sour cream, a healthy drizzle of olive oil, dried herbs to taste, 1 teaspoon + more to taste of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon + more to taste of toasted onion powder, and freshly ground pepper. Mix well, adding 1-2 tablespoons of cream to loosen into a pourable consistency, and season to taste with salt.

To serve

Step 1 – Place the romanesco on a serving dish, and score deeply crosswise through the middle. You want to make crevasses for the ranch dressing.

Step 2 – Pour the dressing over the romanesco, top with crispy leeks and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

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