Today’s Special: The Craziest Vegetable You’ve Ever Seen

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When my friend Yael showed up to our book club with a spiraling head of broccoli romanesco in hand, I was floored. “What is this…this…thing? It looks like it belongs on the wall of my senior year calculus classroom,” I internally babbled. It wasn’t long before I took the short walk to our local market, bought some of this bizarre broccoli, and roasted it up with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mmm, tasty. But what else could be done with this crazy cauliflower cousin? I set out to find out and discovered many a tasty recipe for this fractal of a food. Below is a mini photo montage of what I uncovered. Time to start seasoning this seasonal delight and seeing what wonders it has in store!

Clockwise from top left: Rice, Romanesco Broccoli, and Sesame Balls via Cotto e Crudo, Linguine with Romanesco and Scampi from La Tartine Gourmande, and Romanesco and Fresh Herb Toss from G Living

Have you ever heard of this odd edible? How do you prepare it?

11 Responses to Today’s Special: The Craziest Vegetable You’ve Ever Seen

  1. Lori Lynn 01/10/2012 at 8:24 am #

    I have seen them at the farmers market at lot and always wanted to buy one! I never knew what the heck to do with it though…now i do. done and done!

  2. perlipo 01/10/2012 at 8:43 am #

    It is quite common in France. You can use it like you would with a brocoli, gratin roast it with cheese and cream (once steamed cooked), mash it with potato, you might even be able to eat in salad (raw like you would with cauliflowers). You can also find some purple romanescos sometimes (never tried them though).

  3. kelly christine 01/10/2012 at 10:19 am #

    it’s beautiful!! never seen one before. i want it on my kitchen table.


  4. Al 01/10/2012 at 4:17 pm #

    We’ve had it for ages at California farmers markets. My family always called it “fractal broccoli” because we are big nerds. We eat it the same way you’d eat any cauliflowery kind of thing, steamed with rarebit sauce.

  5. jaclyn 01/12/2012 at 11:03 am #

    i love romanesco!
    melt a few tablespoons of butter and mix with dijon mustard, capers and lemon….drizzle over blanched romanesco pieces…salt and pepper to taste….so good!

    • Hannah (ModCloth) 01/12/2012 at 3:03 pm #

      Whoa, whoa! That sounds tasty. Next thing I try with my romanesco.

  6. Lauren Helen 01/13/2012 at 6:58 am #

    I don’t really like cauliflower – I’m not sure if I’d like this. It looks so interesting, though!

  7. David Wechsler 01/13/2012 at 10:09 am #

    We just love this fascinating-looking plant! We grew this last year in our basement as part of an electro-horticulture experiment. I just started a blog on the topic – come and check us out at

    I was also pleasantly surprised when I found Romanesco florets being served to me on Moldova Airlines while on a business trip to Moldova (a tiny country between Romania and the Ukraine).

  8. Lauren 01/15/2012 at 1:31 pm #

    i like to put them into a curry or just steam them with some lemon juice and garlic infused olive oil. they’re great just grilled up or put into a casserole.

  9. Samantha 01/18/2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Our old neighbor lady who helps run a big farm with her brother (we live in the country!) grows these. We like to call them “Christmas trees” 🙂 We just steam them as we do with broccoli or cauliflower and add some salt and butter.

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