Romanesco: The Art & Science Vegetable

Romanesco broccoli

Let’s shake up the whole vegetable thing a bit. Vegetables can be interesting with a little art and science. This unusual vegetable is intriguing enough for even the pickiest eaters to taste it. Many who have tried the vegetable love its mild flavor. Romanesco is a fractal: a natural phenomenon (or mathematical set) that contains a repeating pattern at every scale. Each segment can be blown up to find a larger piece that matches it precisely.

Romanesco from MilesIt may be obvious from the name that this unique vegetable found its way to America from Italy. Although it’s new to us, it has been cultivated in Italy since the 16th century. No, it’s not just another hybrid like purple and yellow cauliflower. It’s a species unto itself, even though DNA tests show that Romanesco shares some roots with cauliflower. It is sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli or Romanesco cauliflower in North America. The French call it Romanesco cabbage and the Italians say it’s broccolo Romanesco. No matter what you call it, it’s a cool looking vegetable that we need to eat!

Romanesco signage at MIlesRomanesco is as tasty as it is beautiful. It’s excellent raw or cooked. It’s crunchier and more flavorful that cauliflower, but the flavor is not overpowering. It doesn’t have the chalky edge of uncooked broccoli either. With the holidays around the corner, try adding this artsy pick to your raw vegetable platter. It cooks up well too! Romanesco can be cooked using any method that works for broccoli or cauliflower, and be substituted in any recipe that calls for either. Roasted and steamed are my favorite picks.
Romanesco is similar to cauliflower and broccoli, but with its own unique, delicious taste.

Romanesco is becoming more and more widely available. Now I even see it grown locally and sold in my favorite stores. So it’s time to go for it. Take November’s Healthy Challenge and eat Romanesco! We all need to eat more vegetables. Maybe an intriguing vegetable like this is just the trick.