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How Do I Choose the Best Broccoli Romanesco?

G. D. Palmer
G. D. Palmer

Broccoli Romanesco is actually a type of cauliflower, and goes by several other names. This light green vegetable grows in a fractal pattern, and is an unusual sight in most markets. The best Broccoli Romanesco is brightly colored and firm to the touch, with a mild, nutty flavor. You can store this vegetable for short periods in the refrigerator, but should eat it quickly. Romanesco does well raw, lightly steamed, or roasted, but should never be overcooked.

You may see Broccoli Romanesco listed as broccoflower, Romanesco cauliflower, or chou broccoli. Sold primarily as an exotic vegetable, Romanesco appears in the produce departments of upscale groceries and at local farmers' markets. It's a less popular crop than broccoli with a relatively short growing season, which makes it important to buy your it early in autumn or in late spring, but warm weather causes it to bolt and become bitter.

Broccoli Romanesco may be sold in upscale groceries and at local farmers' markets.
Broccoli Romanesco may be sold in upscale groceries and at local farmers' markets.

An ideal specimen is lime green in color, without discoloration, yellowish spots, or browning. The head, which is made up of many tiny flower buds, should be tightly packed and firm to the touch. Look for crisp leaves, a sign that the Broccoli Romanesco has been recently picked, and avoid heads that have been flattened or bruised through rough handling.

Broccoli Romanesco can be added to vegetable salads.
Broccoli Romanesco can be added to vegetable salads.

Romanesco is relatively delicate compared to cauliflower and broccoli, and has a lighter flavor which does best with gentle cooking. This means that you should store it in the crisper section of your refrigerator for a few days at most. Always eat broccoli Romanesco before it loses its firmness. Romanesco heads that are past their prime can be used in soups and purees, but do not taste as fresh.

Cooking broccoli Romanesco is much like cooking cauliflower. This member of the Brassica family can be eaten raw or roasted with oil, or as part of a salad or vegetable platter. Other popular cooking methods include steaming and stir-frying with light seasonings. Unlike many other vegetables, Romanesco keeps its color after cooking, making it a good choice for adding interest to winter vegetable dishes. Avoid boiling or stewing Romanesco, as these cooking processes can produce a mushy, sulfurous product.

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    • Broccoli Romanesco may be sold in upscale groceries and at local farmers' markets.
      By: Goran Bogicevic
      Broccoli Romanesco may be sold in upscale groceries and at local farmers' markets.
    • Broccoli Romanesco can be added to vegetable salads.
      By: Konstantin Yuganov
      Broccoli Romanesco can be added to vegetable salads.