Romanesco broccoli may be intimidating at first because of its intricate fractal shape. However, don't fear the Romanesco--just get it! Romanesco broccoli doesn't have an extraordinary taste despite its dramatic display of mathematical beauty and bright green color. It tastes like cauliflower and broccoli, with a texture similar to both. A recipe for either cauliflower or broccoli would work with Romanesco broccoli, so perhaps a favorite recipe for either one would be a good place to start your Romanesco exploration. I've included a simple recipe below that I came up with and liked.
Romanesque broccoli is part of the cruciferous family, and is known by other names such as Romanesque cauliflower, broccoflower, and caulibroc. The cruciferous family of vegetables also includes brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, cabbage, collard greens, and other species, all of which are rich in nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and fiber. Eating cruciferous vegetables may have a positive effect on reducing one's cancer risk, or it may be that people who eat cruciferous veggies have other traits or behaviors that reduce their cancer risk, or both. Cruciferous vegetables such as Romanesque broccoli fall into the "dark-green" category of vegetables.
This gorgeous vegetable can be found fresh at grocery stores, specialty food retailers such as Trader Joe's, farmers' markets and stands, and the like. (Don't waste time looking for it frozen or canned.) Its growing season is comparatively short, so when you see it, buy it, as it won't be around for long--usually in the fall in the U.S. At specialty food retailers such as Trader Joe's, you'll typically only find it available for a day or two in their fresh produce section. Your best bet for the freshest veggies is your local farmers' market or farm stand/farm store. As I publish this, it's late in the season but this post will be ready for reference next year if the Romanesco has come and gone. Who knows, though, it's been an usually warm fall here in Maryland.
You'll want to allow a few extra minutes to break down your Romanesco broccoli in a manner that preserves its intricate fractal pattern, rather than "ricing" it or chopping it up too much. Here are some photos of how I broke down and roasted a half of a head of Romanesco broccoli. The other half, I shared with my mother (the week of Thanksgiving). I'm pleased to say when I pulled it out of my cooler she was perplexed--she'd never seen nor heard of it before, despite her considerable cooking experience and her love of Italy, Rome, and all things beautiful. I'm glad to have been able to share with her something new, and locally-grown from my rural, bay-side community.
Wash, drain, and pat the Romanesco broccoli dry. If any tips of the florets have grey spots, cut them off. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces in the shapes that you like the best. Combine the EVOO, lime juice, garlic, and black pepper in dish or a freezer bag, then add the broccoli and gently cover it in the mixture. Place broccoli pieces on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, being sure to not crowd the pan. Roast it at 420 degrees* F for 20 minutes or until it starts to brown.
Allow to cool down for several minutes, serve, and enjoy! Store any unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat within 7 days.
*Parchment paper withstands heat up to 425 degrees F which is why I often roast items at 420 degrees F. I prefer to not use aluminum foil to cook.
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