Don't be surprised if Romanesco starts popping up on metro Phoenix menus. This crazy-looking vegetable is quickly becoming a farmers market favorite, and plenty of local growers would love to put it on your table. Here's a brief introduction to what it is and how to use it in your home kitchen.
If we had to rank the relative attractiveness of different vegetables, we'd give Romanesco high scores for aesthetic beauty. This member of the Brassica genus is similar in flavor to other cruciferous vegetables, but looks-wise, it's in a class of its own.
Romanesco is lime-green on the outside and generally white on the inside. It might look more at home in a tidepool than on your dinner plate. The vegetable is comprised of horn-like florets arranged in an intricate twirling pattern. These smaller spirals are arranged in larger spirals, giving the plant an almost conch shell-like appearance.
Nerd alert: apparently the quantity of buds comprising the florets and the number of florets per spiral consistently adhere to Fibonacci sequences and principles. We'll let you verify this on your own time.
Local producers, such as Agritopia, John's Amish Country, and TJ Farms, are currently harvesting Romanesco. If you're interested in experimenting with it at home, you should be able to find easily it at your favorite local Farmers Market (honestly, you can't miss it.)
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Use it anywhere you'd use broccoli or cauliflower. When eaten raw it has a touch of the mustard-like retro-nasal quality you'd expect from any cruciferous vegetable (but more subdued than say, a brussels sprout or broccoli.) Steamed or roasted, it takes on a cauliflower-like nuttiness and sweetness.
We're prepared to call Romanesco the new Kale, so pick up a head of it if you're sick of the fibrous greens and ready to make your way back to Brassic-s.
That was a horrible pun. Sorry, we're not sorry.