This beautiful vegetable is romanesco. Admired by architects, mathematicians, and foodies alike, this complex veggie is most closely related to cauliflower. Originally from Italy, many botanists believe this veggie first appeared during the days of Julius Caesar as the result of selective breeding by Italian farmers. Romanesco became prominent in the international market around the 1990s, and has since been enjoyed by those looking for a fun, healthy alternative to typical veggies.
Fun Fact: Known as the ‘ultimate fractal vegetable,’ the number of spirals on a head of romanesco is a Fibonacci number! For those of us who don’t quite remember our days in high school math class, fractals are patterns where when you divide a fractal pattern into parts, you get a nearly identical, smaller version of the original. The Fibonacci sequence is a pattern where, after the numbers 0 and 1, each subsequent number is equal to the two numbers before it added together (for example: 0+1 = 1, 3+5 = 8, etc.). The fruitlets on pineapples and the flowering of artichokes are also examples of naturally occurring Fibonacci patterns.
How Can We Use It?
Try this veggie raw to experience its fresh and slightly nutty taste. Romanesco is crunchier and more flavorful than cauliflower, and can be prepared as you would normally prepare broccoli or cauliflower. Cooked romanesco has a sweet and mild flavor, and steaming is a great method to soften this vegetablewhile retaining more vitamins than through boiling. Romanesco has a denser texture than its relatives, so it holds up better in a wider variety of cooking techniques. Romanesco pairs perfectly with pasta or can be dressed up in a simple mixture of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.
How Is It Good For Me?
Like cauliflower, romanesco is low in calories (a mere 25 per cup!), fat and sodium. Romanesco is high in vitamin C and a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin K, dietary fiber and carotenoids.
How To Buy It
Delighted by a veggie that is as equally enjoyable to eat as it is to admire? When purchasing romanesco, look to your local farmers’ market for firm heads that are heavy for their size and do not have any discoloration. Store this veggie in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed bag and enjoy!