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Broccoli Romanesco

BrocolliRom.jpg
I bought this unusual variety of broccoli at the farmer's market this week. Broccoli Romanesco looks like a cross between a cauliflower and a broccoli that has been painted bright chartreuse green and shaped into a cluster of conical fractal shapes. Technically it's a Brassica oleracea in the Botrytis group which includes cauliflower and broccoflower (Broccoli is in a different group of Brassica oleracea, so perhaps the name should have been Cauliflower Romanesco).

In any case I think this Romanesco is actually centerpiece gorgeous, and if it didn't taste so good that's what I'd do with it. But I bought a head last week and sauteed it with some garlic and tossed with pasta and a light cream sauce, and now there's no turning back. The taste is more similar to cauliflower than to broccoli (another reason for a name change), but it has a nuttier and more subtle flavor than cauliflower. It's delicious.

It's probably difficult to find outside of farm stands and farmer's markets. You don't find many recipes specifically calling for it in cookbooks either. Luckily you can treat it pretty much the same way you'd treat broccoli or cauliflower. Feel free to substitute it in any recipe for broccoli or cauliflower. The florets are not separate the way they are in heads of broccoli, so you'll need to cut it up the way you would a head of cauliflower or try steaming it whole.

Like any member of the cabbage family, it pairs well with robust flavors like garlic and Parmesan cheese. I haven't tried making a soup out of it yet, but I think it would be both pretty and delicious as a pureed soup with some reserved tips as garnish.

My hope is that it will become more popular and readily available because I want you all to try it.

Comments (2)

Kim:

I've had that "broccoli" in a restaurant twice now (which restaurant escapes me) but I remember thinking how good it was and that I've never seen it before. Thanks for the explanation.

Angie:

I just got some seeds to try and grow these gorgeous things on my own. Hopefully they successfully germinate and grow, I can't wait to try them :)

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