Spiral-shaped florets, florescent lime-green hue, Romanesco looks more like a vegetable from Star Wars than something people eat on planet earth.
What might look like a new vegetable surfacing at your farmer’s market, Romanesco has been grown in Italy since the 16th century. It was likely crossbred by farmers to create a striking vegetable with crunch and delicate flavor.
Similar to broccoli and cauliflower, the Romanesco is easier to digest. It is rich in zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and carotenoids. It provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have found Romanesco to be high in kaempferol, a flavonoid that inhibits cancer cell growth and induces cancer cell death. Kaempferol has also been shown to prevent arteriosclerosis by inhibiting oxidation of cholesterol.
When shopping for Romanesco look for dense and heavy heads with bright green color. The stem should be firm; avoid any signs of wilting. It should keep about a week in the refrigerator.
Romanesco can be eaten just like cauliflower. Try serving it raw along with hummus or tossed into a salad, sautéing or roasting it with olive oil and garlic, or steaming it for an easy side dish. It cooks fairly fast so be sure not to overcook it; you want to keep its shape.
Spicy Romanesco with Lemon and Capers
130 calories per serving
1 head Romanesco, cut into florets
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs capers, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 425⁰F. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper toss the Romanesco with 2 tbs olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10 minutes until browned and tender. Meanwhile in a medium sized bowl whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove Romanesco from the oven and toss in dressing before serving.