Vegetable from Another Planet – Romanesco
We are blessed with a wonderful, year-round farmers’ market in our area that supplies us with the best fresh organic and hydroponic vegetables you can imagine. While doing our weekly routine of finding the best of the best, we came across an unusual cruciferous vegetable – Romanesco.
Most likely you will come across this vegetable late fall and during the months of January through March. Like its cousins broccoli and cauliflower, Romanesco tends to grow best in cooler weather, even in Florida. It seems a bit alien at first – Romanesco looks like a miniature Christmas tree plucked itself down into a small cabbage. However, it is one of our favorite in the Brassica oleracea species (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.). The Wikipedia entry for Romanesco is very science/mathematics geeky – talking about how “…the bud’s form approximates a natural fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral… The number of spirals on the head of Romanesco broccoli is a Fibonacci number.” You’d almost think that eating this weird looking veggie will make you smarter.
We don’t know if Romanesco will make you smarter, but it is a smart bet that you’ll especially enjoy this veggie, even if cauliflower and/or broccoli are not your favorites. It has a much milder flavor, and it is down-right sweet at times.
How to Prepare
There are quite a few recipes that are specific for Romanesco, but the easiest way to think about this veggie is to prepare it like cauliflower – steamed, braised, sauteed, roasted – or raw. The LA Times says “One great simple dish is to steam Romanesco, then break it into florets (this way it stays a little crisp). Dress it with a vinaigrette made with good olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic and chopped pitted black olives. ” (click HERE to see the full article).
Mario Batali, in an article published by the Seattle Times, says, “Romanesco can be served raw, lightly cooked, or cooked through. I usually sauté it slowly with garlic and lemon zest, and punctuate with red pepper flakes for zing.”
Here’s our go-to method for cooking Romanesco from the Serious Foodie kitchens.
- 1 head Romanesco broccoli, broken into large florets
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 1 medium onion, julienne sliced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 450°. Toss the Romanesco, garlic, and onion with oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning halfway through, until golden and tender, about 20 minutes.