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Ever tried romanesco? It's a little like cauliflower and a little like broccoli, and it makes a GREAT salad! Give this vegetable a try with this simple recipe.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
Have you ever cooked with romanesco? Also called romanesco cauliflower or romansco broccoli, it is indeed of the brassica family and looks like a mathematician’s fractal experiment run wild.
It’s almost too pretty to eat. But eat it we shall.
What Does Romanesco Taste Like?
Romanesco is closer in taste to cauliflower than to broccoli, but milder and nuttier than either.
How to Prepare Romanesco
When shopping, look for heads of romanesco that feel firm and heavy. Brown spots are a sign that the romanesco is a little old; a few spots here and there are fine and can be trimmed off, but try to avoid ones with lots of spots. Store in the crisper drawer until ready to use (it will keep for a week and a half or so).
Prep romanesco much the way you would cauliflower, cutting the head into quarters or wedges and then cutting out the tough core. You can break up the wedges into florets at this point, or, as we show in this recipe, steam the wedges and then break them into florets.
An Easy Way to Cook Romanesco
For this salad we first steam the romanesco wedges, then lightly toss the florets in a red wine vinaigrette, along with thinly sliced red onion, celery, parsley, capers, and lemon zest. We leave everything to marinate for a bit, so the dressing seeps in, lightly pickling it.
So good! If romanesco is not available where you are, you could easily do the same treatment with cauliflower.
Storing Romanesco Salad
This salad is best served chilled or at room temperature, and will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Try These Recipes with Cauliflower and Broccoli:
- Broccoli Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Chickpea Curry
- Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan
- Cauliflower Fried “Rice”
Updated February 13, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.
Romanesco Salad Recipe
Prep the ingredients while you are steaming the romanesco in the first step.
- 2 heads romanesco (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1/2 large red onion, or one small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 anchovy, minced (optional, omit if cooking vegetarian)
- 1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Steam romanesco wedges: Cut the romanesco heads into quarters, stalk to tip. Cut out the tough core and any outside green leaves. Cut again lengthwise.
Place into a steamer basket in a pot with about an inch of water. Sprinkle the romanesco florets with a little salt. Bring water to a boil. Cover and steam until just tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove romanesco florets from steamer, place into a bowl, and chill.
2 Soak onion slices in water a few minutes: Thinly slice the red onion, across the grain. Place the red onion slices in a bowl and cover with water. This will take the onion-y edge off the onion, making it easier to eat raw in the salad.
3 Make dressing: Smash the whole clove of garlic (not cut, just smash with the flat side of a chef's knife) and place in the bottom of a small bowl. Add the vinegar and salt, stir to dissolve the salt. Add the minced anchovy if using. Then whisk in the olive oil.
4 Marinate the salad: Break up the wedges of romanesco into smaller chunks of florets. Place into a large serving bowl. Add celery, onions (drained of the water), parsley, capers, and lemon zest.
Remove the garlic clove from the dressing and add dressing to the romanesco salad. Toss to coat with the dressing. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour. Even better overnight.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to serve.
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Romanesco goes by various names, including Romanesco broccoli, fractal broccoli, or Roman cauliflower, though it&aposs considered to be a hybrid between cauliflower and broccoli. And it&aposs part of the Brassica genus (also known as cruciferous vegetables), just like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale.
Romanesco is chartreuse in color with spire-like florets. Each one looks identical, albeit getting smaller and smaller. Romanesco naturally forms a logarithmic spiral and is an approximate (because it eventually ends) fractal, which is a geometric curve with a repetitive pattern, as the shape gets smaller in scale. Each part or floret (in this case) has the same form as the whole. If you&aposre curious just how many spirals are on one head of Romanesco, it is a Fibonacci number. So now you have a great conversation starter at dinner or even at a party.
So kids or (some adults, let&aposs be honest) who aren&apost a fan of trying new foods or green vegetables, might be swayed by the math lesson alone, or at the very least its intriguing form. On top of this, if you cut it right down the middle, it looks like a Christmas tree.
This vegetable gets it's stunning spiralled pinnacles from a naturally occurring Fibonacci sequence. It is part of the brassica family along with other veggies like cauliflower, cabbage and kale.
It is has lime green, yellow florets that are tightly packed in conical clusters with a distinct nutty flavour and can be prepared much like you would regular cauliflower or broccoli.
While it can be compared to both broccoli and cauliflower it is not a cross between the two but a product of selective breeding by 16th century Roman farmers (hence the name).
- 3 cups loosely packed parsley sprigs
- 1 cup loosely packed basil sprigs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups 1 1/2-inch Romanesco florets (10 ounces)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- One 7-ounce head of butter lettuce, leaves torn (4 cups)
- One 8-ounce bunch of curly kale, stemmed, cut into 2-inch pieces (4 cups)
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium, firm-ripe Hass avocado&mdashpitted, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Tie the parsley and basil together with kitchen string to make a bouquet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, toss the Romanesco with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the Romanesco over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, 8 to 10 minutes return to the bowl.
Grill the herb bouquet, turning often, until charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bouquet to a work surface, discard the string and stems and chop the charred leaves.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped herbs with the garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the Romanesco, lettuce, kale, tomatoes and avocado to the bowl and toss to coat serve.
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and thoroughly mix with a fork set aside.
Separate the Romanesco into bite-sized florets.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a large pinch of salt. Transfer the florets to the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Drain into a colander and immediately place into an ice bath to retain the dark color and stop the cooking process.
Over medium heat, fry the bacon and remove onto paper towel, leaving the grease in the pan.
Gently toast the hazelnuts over low heat in the remaining bacon grease.
Mix the Romanesco, bacon and nuts in a serving bowl and pour the dressing over top toss to combine.
Romesco Pasta Salad With Burrata
Recipe by The Giadzy Kitchen
Romesco is kind of like a Spanish version of pesto – but instead of basil and Parmesan, the sauce gets the bulk of its flavor from roasted red peppers. You’ll often see it with tomatoes as well, but we kept it simple for this tasty pasta salad. The sauce gives a great smokey sweetness to everything, while the burrata makes everything so deliciously creamy – and you can’t go wrong with some cherry tomatoes and arugula too!
This is a great pasta salad to make a few hours or a day ahead of when you want to eat it – it holds up well, and the flavors develop even more the longer it sits.
Romanesco & Chickpea Salad
Two things happened on Monday: It was Jack’s birthday and also we won the Saveur Reader’s Choice Best Cooking Blog award! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you who voted for us! As someone who’s not used to winning things, I really didn’t see this coming. I’m shocked and just so flattered.
I realize — I probably should be posting cocktails and cake, but it’s been a heck of a busy week, so today I bring you: Celebration Salad. (Although, stay tuned, I have some yummy birthday carrot cake coming up next week).
But for now, this salad. (Which I think is worth celebrating). It’s fresh, springy, and would be so perfect for easter. I had some gorgeous romanesco, but you could sub cauliflower just as easily. I blanched the romanesco just a bit and tossed it with a lemony dijon dressing along with chickpeas, avocado, eggs, capers and smoked salmon.
Romanesco Summer Salad
This recipe was featured in the Weekly Yum, on Stirring the Pot radio. Cookbook author and culinary translator, Rebecca Katz joins the conversation with Stefanie Sacks to deconstruct Romanesco Summer Salad from Brassicas by Laura B. Russell. Sacks and Katz lure you into the kitchen to create meals that enhance your health and well being while caressing your tastebuds. Nutritious always meets delicious on the Weekly Yum.
Although vibrant lime green Romanesco (sometimes called broccoli Romanesco or Romanesco cauliflower) looks like the love child of cauliflower and broccoli, it is actually closer to cauliflower in terms of taste and how it is used. Its color is fantastic in this lively salad, though you can definitely use white cauliflower if that’s all you can find. Cook the Romanesco just long enough to take away the raw bite, 2 to 3 minutes tops. Normally I would suggest plunging the florets into ice water to halt the cooking immediately, but introducing extra water here will mute the flavor and dilute the dressing. Instead, cook them fast and then spread them on a baking sheet so they cool quickly.
1 cup water
1 medium Romanesco or regular cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets (about 5 cups)
2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons drained capers, coarsely chopped
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. (If you have a steamer insert, put it in the pot to hold the Romanesco. If you don’t have one, don’t worry about it.) Add the Romanesco, cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium, and steam for 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Romanesco to a rimmed baking sheet or clean kitchen towel, spreading it in a single layer, to cool.
In a small bowl, to make the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly with a fork to form an emulsified vinaigrette.
Put the Romanesco in a serving bowl. Add the bell pepper, onion, dill, capers, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep well for several hours. Just before serving, taste and add more salt if needed.
Reprinted with permission from Brassicas by Laura B. Russell (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).
There is something incredibly majestic about the Pacific Northwest. The thick billowy clouds, greyish-smoky skies, cerulean mountain tops and vibrant green forests as far as the eye can see. A few weeks ago, in between my jaunts back and forth from Philly to Denver – I was fortunate enough to take a trip out west to Seattle and visit the home of Cascadian Farm.
Notes: this salad takes about 25 minutes to make and will feed 2 hungry people for a main event or 4 as a side. You could toss it with a pound of pasta and serve 6!! I like my veggies roasted to the point that they’re almost burnt, that to me is the best. Feel free to roast to your liking.
Yes, Cascadian Farm is owned by General Mills.
Yes, I have my apprehensions about that.
The folks at Cascadian Farm, they’re fighting the good fight people. They were founded by Gene Kahn in the 1970s. Basically he was just a young kid who wanted to make a big difference in the world. But slowly overtime, he realized that in order to keep his dream alive he needed way more money to do it. So by getting funding from General Mills he was able to make that happen.
In short, I respect Cascadian Farm and the people behind their mission. Their passion to protect our planet is transparent and approachable. They offer affordable organic food options to people all over our country. They support initiatives like Bee-Friendlier, a campaign to protect our pollinators.
Now onto this roasted romanesco salad. It is a simple combination of all the fall things that I love. I snagged all of these green veggies at my farmers’ market. Romanesco you guys, the beauty in every little nook and cranny is incredible. I could stare at it for hours. If you can’t find romanesco at your local market, cauliflower is a good substitute. This salad is extra special served warm, right out of the oven. Just the perfect amount of crispy and tossed lightly with a zippy green olive dressing.
Roasted Romanesco Salad With Molasses Vinaigrette
Romanesco is a peculiar yet glorious thing. If you’ve never seen it before, you’re probably thinking this is some sort of sci-fi shit. You might even be expecting me to claim that I hail from one of those seven planets that were recently discovered, and that this is the broccoli of my people — but no. I’m not that interesting. The good news is that these edible fractals are from planet earth.
It’s a shame I had to destroy it.
With a ravishing veg like this, you want to be able to put it to good use and make somewhat of a statement with it you want a recipe to revolve around it. Sadly, there’s nothing too fancy about it when it comes to cooking. Much like broccoli and cauliflower, you can eat it raw, steam it, fry it or roast it.
So I made a super lush and springy salad out of it.
Roasted Romanesco Salad With Molasses Vinaigrette
The great thing about salad is that the options are seemingly endless I almost feel safe saying that you can throw just about anything into a salad and the flavors will somehow work themselves out. (Almost.) I learned this by frequenting the Whole Foods salad bar. Every time I’m perusing that salad bar, I get over-excited and forage anything that looks good. As I walk away, I look down at my mess and think, what have I done. Luckily I’ve yet to disappoint myself.
I felt like a bit of a dink making a SALAD out of something so beautiful, but it seemed better than simply cutting it up and roasting it. Plus, I had some gorgeous kiwi berries, edamame, avocado to make it the greenest salad ever.
Here are some suggestions in case you can’t find some of these ingredients or in case you want to play around:
- Pomegranate seeds — craisins, raisins or any small dried fruit
- Kiwi berry — grapes
- Edamame — sweet peas or chickpeas
- Sunflower seeds — walnuts, slivered almonds or pepitas
I didn’t add cheese, but if you want to, you could easily crumble some feta or goat cheese over this bad boy.
As far as the dressing goes, if you love molasses as much as I do, you need this vinaigrette in your life. If you’re not a huge fan of molasses, any kind of oil + balsamic type of dressing would work here.
Romanesco & Chickpea Salad
Ahhhhh, beautiful vegetables- there is nothing better! In fact, often times we design whole recipes around a pretty veggie. This was the case with this gorgeous Romanesco & Chickpea Salad. I mean, just look at the awesome romanesco!
If you are unfamiliar, romanesco is actually different from cauliflower or broccoli but often you will hear it referred to as either. It is technically Brassica oleracea which is related to a wild cabbage. Although, it does taste similar to cauliflower and the green reminds one of broccoli. However, the shade of bright green is simply spectacular and really shines on any plate.
That was the case with this Romanesco & Chickpea Salad. This salad is fresh, light, and tasty. It works great as a side or give yourself an extra big serving and have it for your full meal. The chickpeas give it that protein that will be sure to satisfy and fill you up.
Along with the romanesco and chickpeas, this salad is full of sunflower seeds, currants, shallots, radish, hemp hearts and bright mint. Then, last but not least, it’s finished with a creamy horseradish vinaigrette. I know- it sounds weird! But trust us on this one. Somehow the zesty mustard works with the fresh mint.
However, if you are not a big fan of horseradish the dressing could be replaced with a regular mustard vinaigrette or really any light dressing because the real stars of this salad are the flavorful veggies.
If you are looking for a fun and flavorful salad, look no further. You found it! This Romanesco & Chickpea Salad will have you smacking your lips and going back for more. Plus, it will look gorgeous on your plate, what’s better than that?! Enjoy!