How to Cook Romanesco

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Romanesco goes by many names, including – confusingly – romanesco broccoli and romanesco cauliflower. The decidedly alien-looking vegetable is quite possibly the result of selective breeding practiced in Italy as far back as the 16th century. While romanesco looks a little like very well-coiffed broccoli, its flavor is more like sweeter, milder cauliflower that has a nutty taste that gives it depth. Romanesco can be prepared and served in all of the same ways that broccoli and cauliflower can.

Things You'll Need

  • Colander
  • Paring knife
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Steamer basket
  • Saucepan
  • Garlic
  • Skillet
  • Pasta, cooked
  • Shaved parmesan
  • Rinse your romanesco thoroughly in cool running water and set it in a colander to drain. Slice off the florets in bite-sized pieces. Toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, cracked pepper and red pepper flakes and serve them raw as a side salad.

  • Steam whole romanesco in a steamer basket until the color deepens and you can clearly smell its scent. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the romanesco. Cut the romanesco into small florets and toss it with olive oil and your preferred seasonings and serve as a side vegetable.

  • Blanch romanesco by submerging it in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Plunge it immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process. Cut the romanesco into florets. Saute the florets in a skillet with olive oil and garlic until they are crisp-tender and starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Toss blanched romanesco with cooked small pasta shapes such as ditalini, orecchiette, small shells or small elbows, Drizzle with olive oil and top with shaved Parmesan cheese for a quick and satisfying lunch or a savory side dish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add romanesco to your favorite baked casserole recipe calling for either broccoli or cauliflower to add a new twist to a familiar dish.
  • Never overcook romanesco because it will get soggy and tasteless.

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  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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