Have you ever seen this strange-looking item at a farmers’ market and wondered if you should try it? (Or, actually, whether it’s even edible?) The answer is yes, absolutely. (To both questions.) Romanesco broccoli is a stunning vegetable that tastes a bit like cauliflower with a milder and slightly nutty flavor. This Roasted Romanesco recipe is dead simple, and a great way to give this vegetable a try for the first time.
The process is similar to roasting other vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower. Cut the Romanesco into florets, toss it with olive oil and spices, and spread it out in a single layer on a sheet pan. Crank up the heat on your oven, and roast. The gorgeous chartreuse color of the Romanesco will pale a bit in roasting, but the flavor leans into its sweetness and nuttiness. Still not convinced? Read on to find out more about Romanesco, and what else you can do with it.
What is Romanesco Broccoli?
Romanesco broccoli, also called broccoflower, Roman cauliflower, Romanesco cauliflower, or just plain Romanesco, is part of the brassica family which also includes kale, cabbage, and cauliflower. Romanesco comes from Italy, where it was first grown in the 16th century. Like the rest of its brassica family members, Romanesco is available in late fall and winter, though usually only for a few weeks. When choosing Romanesco, look for heads with still vibrant color, ideally with leaves attached. Looking at the leaves can help you tell how old the Romanesco is, as wilted leaves indicate the head has been picked a while ago.
The math nerd in me loves the fact that Romanesco buds approximate fractals—each bud is made of smaller buds arranged in a logarithmic spiral, continuing on and on until the buds are too small to repeat and the pattern ends (so not an actual fractal). And, if you count the number of spirals on a Romanesco head, first counting in one direction and then the other, you will get consecutive Fibonacci numbers. Math tip: the Fibonacci series is where each number is the sum of the two previous numbers. Fibonacci spirals can be seen in many other places in nature as well, including sunflowers, artichokes, pine cones, cauliflower, and pineapple.
What are the health benefits of Romanesco Broccoli?
Similar to broccoli in nutritional value, Romanesco is high in vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, folate, and vitamin A. Definitely a healthy addition to your dinner table!
How do you make this Roasted Romanesco recipe?
First, heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Cut head of Romanesco in half, then cut out the core and leaves from each side. Slice florets off the center stem, and put the florets into a large bowl. Toss with 2 T. olive oil, 1/2 t. chile lime seasoning, and 1/4 t. salt.
Place in a single layer on a foil- or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking time, until florets are browned on the edges and just tender. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Other Ways to Prepare Romanesco
You can serve Romanesco broccoli raw or cooked. My kids actually prefer it raw, where it has a stronger crunch than cauliflower. If you want to keep the bright green color but cook it, the best thing to do is to blanch it in boiling water for a minute or two and then pop it into an ice bath. You can then put it into a green salad or grain bowl, or serve it with a dip or on a crudite platter. Other ideas for using Romanesco include: pickling, using it in a stir-fry, and sautéing it in olive oil and tossing with pasta and parmesan cheese.
Can you freeze Romanesco?
Yes, you can. The best way to freeze it is to blanch it first. Halve the Romenesco, cut out the core, and cut into florets. Then boil water, add the florets, and blanch for about 2 minutes. Drain and add to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. You can put into a freezer bag and freeze from there, or you can lay out the florets on a plate or small sheet pan. Put the plate or pan in the freezer until florets freeze. Then you can put them together into a freezer bag and know that they won’t freeze solid together.
If you love this roasted vegetable recipe, check out my recipes for Roasted Broccoli and Carrots and Roasted Broccoli Rabe. If you’re looking for a main dish to serve this side dish with, check out my:
- Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- Greek Chicken Kabobs with Yogurt Sauce
- Panko Crusted Salmon Fillets
- Antipasto Stromboli
- 1 large head of Romanesco broccoli (about 1 lb 10 oz/ 760g)
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 t. Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Seasoning (see notes below for alternatives!)
- 1/4 t. kosher salt
- Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius).
- Cut head of Romanesco in half, then cut out the core and leaves from each side.
- Slice florets off the center stem, and put the florets into a large bowl.
- Toss with olive oil, chile lime seasoning, and salt.
- Place in a single layer on a foil- or parchment paper-lined sheet pan.
- Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking time, until florets are browned on the edges and just tender.
Note: If you don’t have Chile Lime Seasoning, you can replace it with whatever spice you like. Smoked paprika or piment d’espelette would work well. Or chipotle or ancho chile powder. You can also just use salt and pepper!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 248mg Carbohydrates: 4g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 1g