Is it weird to find a vegetable to be absolutely beautiful? When I stumbled upon these guys in the market a few weeks ago, that was my first thought. I instinctively picked up a few and put them in my basket, having no idea how I’d cook or eat them. The only thing I knew was that their fractal-esque, spiral-upon-spiral shape was freaking cool. (Fun fact: the number of spirals on a head of romanesco is a Fibonacci number!)
After doing some research, it turns out that romanesco is a cruciferous vegetable (think broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), meaning that it has a lot of the nutrients that these other veggies also have in common. It’s high in vitamins C, K, B6, as well as potassium. It originated, as far as we know, in the 16th century in Italy, and has probably been leaving market-goers awestruck with its intense color and intricate spirals ever since.
After doing some research, it turns out romanesco can be cooked and enjoyed in variety of different ways (blanched, sauteed, raw, etc). I personally like the hands-off easiness of roasting vegetables, so that’s what I went with this method. As for how it tastes, it’s a cross between cauliflower and broccoli, with a slight tilt toward the cauliflower end of things.
Once roasted with these Greek spices, lemon, and olive oil, it has the firmness and nuttiness that make it a great base to pile any kind of protein on (I’m thinking some grilled chicken thighs sound good), or even sprinkled on a salad for crunchy texture and intense nutty flavor!
Roasted Greek Romanesco
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Total time: 45 minutes
- 2 large heads of romanesco
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2-3 tbsp good quality olive oil
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F
Mix the oregano, thyme, marjoram, sea salt, and pepper in a small bowl to create the Greek spice blend.
On a clean cutting board, slice the bottom of the stalk off so that the leaves and excess stalk are removed. Place them aside or discard. Slice the romanesco in half lengthwise, then again to create quarters. Stand each quarter upright and slice diagonally so that the florets fall off each of the stalks.
Mix the florets in a bowl along with the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and dried spice blend.
Spread the seasoned florets evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes. About half way through the cooking time, use a spatula to flip the romanesco florets so that they are browned evenly on both sides.
Serve these straight out of the oven with your preferred protein, or eat them cold as leftovers!
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