Romanesco, also known as Roman broccoli and Roman cabbage, is a cruciferous vegetable widely appreciated in Italy and abroad. Its beautiful exterior, which fades from white to light green, makes romanesco a star in any dish. Let's look at its unique characteristics, history and the many different ways romanesco may be cooked.
Romanesco has a similar appearance to cauliflower. It differs in the color, which is light green, and in the structure: unlike the cauliflower which is roundish, romanesco is instead shaped like a pyramid, with many small rosettes arranged in a spiral that are repeated with some regularity. Each rosette is composed of other smaller rosettes. This Roman cabbage is also a healthy treat: it is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.
Romanesco has been consumed in the Roman countryside for centuries. In 1834, the poet Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, who composed his verses in the Roman dialect, wrote in his sonnet Er Testamento Der Pasqualino about a farmer named Torzetto who cultivated and traded his own romanesco.
How to Cook Romanesco
Romanesco is a very versatile vegetable that can be consumed either alone or as a side dish, and it is especially delicious in pasta dishes.
Try this simple Italian cooking method: cut the romanesco into large chunks and boil in salted water for about 15 minutes. Once drained, you can eat it hot or let it cool. In both cases, romanesco should be drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. You can adjust the salt, pepper and possibly vinegar to taste.
Alternatively, you can sauté the romanesco. Simply cut the vegetable into small chunks and add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a pan. Once the oil is hot add the romanesco, turning it from time to time and being careful not to let it burn. If you don't sauté it for too long, you will obtain a crunchy and tasty side dish.
Lasagne with Romanesco
This delicious vegetarian lasagna features a blend of romanesco and broccoli, along with a medley of cheeses: ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella.