As I was walking through the produce section at my local market the other day, I ran across this green vegetable that I’d never seen before; it looked sort of like an alien meets sea coral. It was by far the strangest thing I’d ever come across in the produce section.
The store clerk said it was called Romanesco, but she had a look of bewildered hesitation so I didn’t bother asking her how to eat or cook it. Instead, I simply thanked her and proceeded to do what everyone does when they have a question that needs answering – I looked it up on my phone.
It turns out the oddly fractal-shaped green vegetable is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. I thought, “This has to be the ULTIMATE vegetable!” Although that was enough info to make me pop that bright green alien vegetable into my cart, I did a bit more digging when I got home, and here’s a brief summation of my research:
- Romanesco is also known by other names – broccolfower, Romanesque cauliflower, and coral broccoli.
- Many think it’s a modern hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli, but it’s actually been around in Italy since the 16th century. However, it’s only been in the U.S. since 1990.
- Romanesco is easily digestible so it’s a nice choice for sensitive stomachs.
- It’s packed with nutrients: vitamins C and K, a host of B vitamins, potassium, carotenoids, including beta-carotene (possibly higher than broccoli), and dietary fiber (possibly lower than broccoli).
- Romanesco is also from the brassica family so it has detoxifying characteristics like sulfur-containing compounds and diindolmethane (DIM).
I wasn’t quite sure how to cook it so an online search of recipes suggested sautéing or oven roasting. I was in the mood for something with a sauce so I chose the former and came up with the following recipe.
- 1 head Romanesco, cut into individual florets then sliced into thinner pieces
- 8-10 medium criminy mushrooms (you can use any kind, I just happened to have these in my fridge)
- 2-4 Tbs of coconut oil (the Romanesco likes to “suck up” the oil)
- ½ cup chicken bone broth (I had fresh made but any organic chicken, veggie, or beef stock will do)
- 1 Tbs arrowroot powder
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast (provides the “cheesy” flavor)
- Ranch seasonings (to taste, but approximately 1 Tbs of each)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Sautee the Romanesco in the coconut oil over med heat until fork-tender (approximately 10 minutes).
- Add the mushrooms and cook another 3-5 minutes.
- While the Romanesco is cooking, combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
- When the mushrooms are cooked through, add the sauce to the Romanesco-mushroom mixture, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes (the sauce will thicken).
Note: This sauce is a healthier alternative to a regular cheese sauce. It’s called “cheesy” only because the nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor. Do not expect this sauce to be thick and creamy like a regular cheese.