At the Farmers' Market: Romanesco
What sounds like an architectural style, looks like a Windows 95-era screen saver, computes like a Fibonacci spiral and tastes like cauliflower?
The species Brassica oleracea has a mind-boggling number of different cultivars. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts are all B. oleracea, and one that was bred in Italy is a beautiful green flower. Because it is associated with Rome, it was given the name broccolo romanesco. The tendency to abbreviate long names has led to it being called simply romanesco, though it may also be advertised as broccoflower.
While romanesco behaves more or less exactly like cauliflower when cooked, roasting or boiling it may spoil the logarithmic beauty of the plant. Romanesco has a milder taste and a softer texture than cauliflower or broccoli when raw, which means it's possible to set out a platter of raw romanesco with a dip such as bagna caôda and let the guests figure out whether the alien vegetable is edible.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.