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Romanesco is a healthy vegetable with a vibrant green color and nutty flavor. If you haven’t tried it yet, fear not! You’ll learn how to easily cook Romanesco broccoli along with handy preparation tips. We’ve got serving ideas and recipes too!
Someone explain to me why romanesco hasn’t gone foodie viral? This healthy vegetable is one of my all-time favorites with its delicate texture and nutty flavor! You’ll be amazed as how much faster it cooks up than broccoli or cauliflower. It’s even low-carb!
Today we’re going to cover al the ways you can cook it whether roasting, boiling, microwaving or grilling! Friends, I know you’ll come to love it as much as I do, so let’s dive right in!
What is Romanesco
Romanesco is an edible flower bud of the Brassica oleracea wild cabbage family that includes this cruciferous vegetable. It goes by many names including romanesco broccoli, romanesco cauliflower, roman cauliflower, green cauliflower, broccoflower, fractal broccoli and romano broccoli (broccolo romano in Italian). While some people call it a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli, it’s botanically distinct.
This chartreuse green vegetable has pointy florets sporting a fractal pattern that some say resembles Christmas trees. The taste is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower with a mild and nutty flavor.
Where does the name come from? This vegetable was cultivated back in the 15th century in the Lazio region where its namesake Rome is the capital. (Fun fact: This region’s dialect is also called romanesco!) In the 20th century, it arrived stateside.
What’s the difference between Romanesco, broccoli and cauliflower? Romanesco is sometimes labelled green cauliflower and considered a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli, even though it’s botanically distinct. Broccoli is the least dense of the three and has a milder and sweeter taste. Cauliflower tends to be smoother with a more neutral flavor profile, while Romanesco is nuttier. It’s an excellent substitute for the other two vegetables.
Is It healthier than broccoli? Romanesco is nutritionally similar to broccoli according to Health Benefits Times. It’s is rich in vitamins A, C and K along with minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It’s a good source of dietary fiber. This vegetable is also keto-friendly with just 20 calories and 4 grams of net carbs per cup!
Buying and storing Romanesco: Romanesco grows in the fall with a winter harvest. When fresh, it’ll be bright green, heavy for its size and have with firm stems with leaves attached. It’ll last up to one week in the fridge after purchase.
How to Cook Romanesco
There are many ways to cook this vegetable. For preparation, you can use a paring knife to cut the florets away from the stem on a cutting board, just like with broccoli:
Then use one of the following cooking methods:
Roasted Romanesco: This is my favorite and who doesn’t love roasted vegetables? The edges caramelize in the oven to produce crispy crowns, turning them into amazing veggie nuggets. Plus, it’s a healthy side dish with major crowd appeal! Toss the florets in oil and salt before placing on a baking sheet in the upper middle of the oven. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for about 15 minutes. TIP: Don’t crowd the pan in order to get proper browning.
Boiled Romanesco: This is basically blanching the florets in a pot of boiling water for just 2 to 3 minutes before draining. (Yes, it’s that fast to cook, much faster than broccoli or cauliflower!) The color will change almost instantly and the pieces will become tender quickly. TIP: Don’t boil longer as it can become mushy!
Microwaved Romanesco: This could be the easiest cooking method. Simply add the florets to a microwave-safe bowl and add cold water to cover. Microwave on full power for 3 minutes and check doneness. Continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until tender.
Grilled Romanesco: You can toss florets in oil and salt and then place in a grilling basket. Preheat the grill to 425°F (220°C) and cook for about 15 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice.
Storage and Reheating
You can store cooked romanesco in the fridge for up to 4 days. First let it come to room temperature and then place it in an airtight container or ziptop bag. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat for several minutes until hot, tossing every minute or so. You can also microwave it briefly (one minute maximum).
How to Eat Romanesco
There are many ways to serve this cruciferous vegetable:
- Make it a side dish for meats or seafood. It pairs beautifully with steak, pork chops, chicken, fish and more.
- You can also cover it with cheese sauce for a kid-friendly side dish.
- Add it to a salad instead of broccoli. Try it in pasta salad, Cobb salad or potato salad!
Can You Eat it Raw? Yes, although it tastes better when cooked with a mellower flavor and softer texture.
You may also have heard of romanesco sauce, but that’s entirely different and does not contain this vegetable.
Romanesco Recipe Ideas
Ready to explore some other romanesco recipes? Here are some ideas:
- Romanesco rice is like low-carb cauliflower rice with an even richer flavor! Simply grate raw florets or pulse them in a food processor until pulverized. Then sauté in a large skillet over medium heat with oil for 5 to 6 minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper for a tasty and attractive dish. You can even add other ingredients to make fried cauliflower rice by substituting romanesco!
- Romanesco soup is a delicious alternative to broccoli soup and it’s faster to make too. Just boil the florets in your favorite broth and puree in the blender to make it into a soup. Mix in seasonings, grated cheese and possibly some sour cream too.
- Romanesco salad is a delicious alternative to a crunchy broccoli salad. Simply combine raw florets with chopped red onion, bacon bits, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Toss with your favorite creamy dressing for a light lunch!
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- 1 head romanesco
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Preheat the oven to 425°F, placing the oven rack in the upper middle position. Turn on the convection or forced air function (if available). Set aside a large baking sheet.
- Clean the Romanesco under cold running water and place on a cutting board.
- Cut away the leaves using a paring knife and discard. Cut the florets into bite-size pieces. You can slice the stem into 1/4-inch rings or simply discard.
- Place the romanesco pieces into a medium bowl. Drizzle the olive oil on top and sprinkle the salt and pepper. Toss until all pieces are evenly coated.
- Spread the pieces across the prepared baking sheet. TIP: Do not crowd the pan or the pieces will not brown properly.
- Bake until the florets are tender with browned edges, about 15 minutes. Optional: wearing oven mitts, use kitchen tongs to turn them after 7-8 minutes for more even browning.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Squeeze droplets of lemon juice on top. Then sprinkle the grated parmesan onto the romanesco pieces. Serve immediately.
- Storage: Allow leftovers to come to room temperature before placing in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll last for up to 4 days. Reheat for several minutes over in a skillet over medium heat.
- Boiled Romanesco: If you don’t want to use the oven, you can also boil this vegetable on the stovetop. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until tender and then drain. Toss with oil, salt and pepper to serve.
- Microwaved Romanesco: Place the florets in a medium microwaveable bowl and cover with cold water. Microwave on full power for 3 minutes. Check doneness and continue cooking in 30-second intervals as needed until tender.
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