This week’s feature veggie is Romanesco! We’re growing them at a couple of our farms and they’re almost ready. Brassica oleracea ‘Romanesco’ is in the Brassicaceae family along with Cauliflower and Cabbage. Closely related to Cauliflower, it’s entire head is formed of many small spikey florets. Chartreuse in color, botanists believe the Romanesco was a result of selective breeding by Italian farmers in the 16th century.
This Italian heirloom’s popularity probably came from its appearance. It’s florets form a fascinating natural fractal where each flower in the spiral is made of a series of smaller florets. This logarithmic pattern of the Romanesco is a representation of the Fibonacci spiral.
Romanesco grows like cauliflower with thick stalks and big leaves. To grow Romanesco leave a large space because it grows to 2 feet in diameter and needs lots of nutrients to form large heads. It needs well-drained soil and full sun. It is a hardy cool-season plant that bolts when exposed to high heat.
Romanesco is also very nutritious. It’s rich in Vitamin C and L, fiber, and carotenoids. It is similar to cauliflower but with a crunchier texture and a nutty flavor. It is very versatile and can be served raw or cooked in a variety of ways. It is great lightly sautéed, steamed, or roasted. If you’d like to preserve its bright color, you can boil the heads and then directly put them in a bowl of ice water. Romanesco is more tender than cauliflower so do not overcook!