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Romanesco Vegetable

Learn about Romanesco

Romanesco is a cruciferous vegetable that has many similarities to cauliflower and broccoli. The flavor is mild and sweet and it is an overall very versatile vegetable. You will instantly recognize its green/yellow color and the fractal looking pointed tips.

The first time I saw Romanesco at the grocery store I had to pick it up to get a closer look but I was also very intimidated. Its complex pointed spiral pattern was mesmerizing and I imagined it was something you might see on end of a dinosaur tail used for self-defense. Don’t be afraid of this beautiful vegetable. It is easy to cook, tastes great and is quite versatile. To get over my fear, I just had to give it a try once and I was hooked and I learned that fractals can be delicious.

Romanesco Vegetable
Notice the spiral pattern of the Romanesco

What is it?

Is it a cauliflower? Is it broccoli? It is neither! But wait, I hear people call it Romanesco Broccoli or Romanesco cauliflower. Romanesco is in the same Brassica oleracea family of cruciferous vegetables so it’s more of a cousin to broccoli or cauliflower. Romanesco does have a fairly similar taste and texture structure of both cauliflower and broccoli.

What does it taste like?

Romanesco is sweet, mild and can have a nutty taste when roasted. It is slightly crunchier than cauliflower. The textured cones give it a fun texture on your tongue when you eat it.

What does it look like up close?

The form of Romanesco is very striking fractal pattern that resembles a fractal. The spiral is a series of buds that decrease in size from the base to the top of the Romanesco. Each floret subdivides iteself into another floret and another floret and on and on.  If you are a science geek you might appreciate that the number of spirals on the Romanesco head is a Fibonacci number. The Fibonacci sequence is the series of numbers 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. The next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it.

Top 3 reasons why you should eat Romanesco?

  • Really, it is a versatile food that can be eaten raw, steamed or roasted. Because of its mild flavor it can be used in a variety of dishes and used as a substitute for cauliflower or broccoli.
  • Romanesco nutrition is solid with healthy doses of vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenoids and dietary fiber.
  • How often do you get to eat fractals for dinner? The textured appearance looks awesome and makes for a fun and tasty texture in your mouth.

How do you eat Romanesco?

Oh it’s easy and delicious. Romanesco can be eaten raw, steamed or roasted. My personal favorite is to cut it into wedges, toss it with some olive oil and salt & pepper and roast it at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. The time will vary depending on how thick the wedges are so after about 20 minutes check it every 5 minutes or so for doneness. Make sure not to overcook it as it is best when it has a little crunch to it.

Just like broccoli or cauliflower you can eat the florets, the stalks, or the leaves.

How do you store Romanesco?

This is easy, just keep in your vegetable drawer in a plastic bag or without. It should last about a week but it will depend on how fresh it is when you bought it from the grocery store or farmer’s market. In case you aren’t sure if it’s good check out our guide below on knowing whether your Romanesco is still good to eat. null

How to pick a Romanesco

Look for tightly packed leaves and brightly colored florets. Lookout for any discoloration or bruising. It never hurts to smell your vegetables to make sure there isn’t something else wrong with it that may not be easily noticed visually. If the leaves have been removed then there is a good chance that the Romanesco is a bit older.

Did my Romanesco go bad?

Nothing is worse that wanting to eat your food but you aren’t sure if it is safe or healthy to eat it. With Romanesco I have noticed a few things can happen when it goes back. The first sign is that it starts to turn black at the edges. If it is just the tip I will simply cut off the tip a little below the black area and review to see if there is any further rotting. When it looks clean then you are good to eat it. If for some reason there are dark areas deeper into the vegetable once you cut it open then it might be best to compost it.

Here is an example of the black tips that can usually just be trimmed off
Here you can see that I have simply trimmed off a few of the black area and it is ready to eat.

When you cut it open there is rotting. I have had this multiple times when the outside looked fairly good. You have the option to cut out the rotting part if it is just a little but if it gets to be as much as this picture I try and be safe and just compost it.

When the rotting goes this deep I am hesitant to eat it. Usually I will compost it.

When is Romanesco in season?

In the United States Romanesco is generally available from late September through the winter.

What is the history of Romanesco?

So little is known about the history of Romanesco. We do know is that Romanesco has been grown in Italy or eastern Mediterranean region since the 16th century. It wasn’t until the 1990s that it became commercially available in the United States and Europe.

How do you like to eat Romanesco?

The easiest way to eat romanesco is to do a simple roasted romanesco.

Let us know how you like to eat Romanesco in the comments below.


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