Lime Green Romanesco Broccoli Has Great Flavor

Romanesco BroccoliVibrantly lime-green, with florets shaped like spiky Balinese temples whirling around a central core, Romanesco broccoli is an attention-grabber.

When I picked out a head at Saturday’s South Anchorage Farmer’s Market, the queries started immediately: “What’s that?” “What’ll you do with it?” “Is that any good?” Despite my enthusiastic assurances, some questioners remained dubious about Romanesco broccoli’s edibility. An engineer decided to buy one only after I told him Romanesco broccoli is used by mathematicians to illustrate logarithmic spirals and fractals.

Brassicas: Broccoli, Romanesco Broccoli, CauliflowerA relative of both broccoli and cauliflower, the flavor of Romanesco broccoli is milder than either of its better known cousins. When well-cooked, the flavor is creamy and nutty, without the bitter edge some family members have.

While everyone agrees Romanesco broccoli is a broccoli-cauliflower cousin, there’s lots of squabbling about its proper name. Italians first grew it near Rome in the 16h century and call it broccolo romanesco (Roman broccoli); hence the most frequently used American name.

Some people call it broccoflower; that’s confusing because broccoflower is a trademarked name for green cauliflower. Other names include Romanesco cauliflower, Romanesco cabbage, minaret broccoli, and coral broccoli.

Romanesco broccoli is good raw or cooked, and can be substituted for either broccoli or cauliflower in most recipes. Oven roasting at high temperature (475°F) tossed with salt and olive oil is my favorite way to cook it. I also like blanching it in boiling salted water and then sautéing it in olive oil with garlic and hot pepper flakes. See also, my recipe for Romanesco Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Caper Butter.

Braised Romanesco Broccoli with Onions and Olives (Cavolfiore Seduto)After photographing Romanesco broccoli yesterday, I was so entranced by its form I couldn’t bear to cut it up. It deserved to be delivered to the dinner table intact, so that all could admire and appreciate its fractal wonders. I found a recipe that allowed me to cook and serve it whole: cavolfiore seduto (“sitting” cauliflower) from southern Italy’s Lucania region. Although it was delivered to the table whole, the fractals quickly disappeared as people dug into my Braised Romanesco Broccoli with Onions & Olives. I served it with fresh Alaska spot shrimp, one of my favorite seafoods, and ate so much broccoli I scarcely had room for shrimp.

Alaska gardeners take note: Romanesco broccoli grows extremely well in our cool climate. (The largest ever Romanesco broccoli, a 35-pounder, was grown in Alaska.) We’ll have a bumper crop this year.


Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


9 Responses to Lime Green Romanesco Broccoli Has Great Flavor

  1. my little expat kitchen says:

    I've never eaten this beautiful vegetable. It looks like a creature of the sea. I've seen it around at various markets but I've always been hesitant to buy it. I love Kalamata olives and olives from Thaso (well, I'm Greek) so I'll brave the broccoli along with some safe, Greek ingredients.

  2. kitchen tables says:

    This is my first time to see a broccoli like that. I have never seen anything like that before. I think that is a very rare type of broccoli. I wonder how it tastes.

  3. Oiy! That is the most beautiful as well as almost disturbing veggie to look at! I have never seen that veggie before. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. It's been a while since I've seen these beauties in my markets. I'd like to try this recipe, Laurie. I've been smacking my lips since reading the title to the post.

  5. What a beautiful dish! Whenever I see Romanesco broccoli I am captivated by it's beauty as it reminds me of an underwater sea animal. I've yet to try it though.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We grow this and it is beautiful to look at and lovely to eat!

  7. Bought my first one at the market this week. I was preparing a special meal. Christmas ham, potatoe and yam scalloped potatoes, pickled beets and my new veggie. Unsure of how to prepare it I decided to steam it whole, placed it in a bowl and drizzled it with cheese sauce. Everyone loved it.

  8. Ah these brocs are so awesome!
    Nature’s the best. Anyway I’ll be adding this to my next nutritional yeast based pasta dish I think 🙂

  9. Pingback: What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? | APA Health & Wellness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *