Romanesco: Exotic Veggie in Season at Farmers' Markets

The curious little kid in us really comes out when we see a funky new fruit or vegetable. (It makes fixing dinner a bit more interesting, too.) One of the loveliest oddities available right now is romanesco, a mysterious relative of cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.

Did you know that all those veggies can be bred with each other? (Math geeks, check out that link for all the glory that is "fractal food" like romanesco, where each branch and bud is a miniature replica of the whole head.)

So the color is like broccoflower, a vivid kiwi-esque chartreuse, as you can see. It's shaped like a vegetable that medieval knights would assault each other with. Raw, it tastes pretty much like raw cauliflower, but cooked, it mellows to a unique savor and is the star of the plate. The tender texture is due to the romanesco spears' narrow stems, much less tough than the florets of its relatives.

Snap it up at Saturday's Old Town Scottsdale market as well as Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Town and Country Shopping Center. Bob McClendon tells us that, if the cool weather holds, we can enjoy romanesco until "probably the 10th to the 15th of March, so about another month . . . Sugar snap peas and fava beans, that's on the horizon."

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