What's That Vegetable?

What's that vegetable? Roast ravishing Romanesco cauliflower

Nov. 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM ET

Michelle Hainer /
Is that space rock? No, it's yummy Romanesco cauliflower.

Whether you’re at a farm stand or a grocery store, Romanesco cauliflower is a stand-out on the produce shelves, both for its striking chartreuse color and its unique shape. (It looks like a cross between a piece of coral and a space rock.) I’ve always been intrigued by this veggie and when I learned that I could prepare it the same way I do regular cauliflower (which is now my go-to prep) I picked up a couple of heads to try.  They didn’t disappoint.

While Romanesco cauliflower is considered a form of traditional cauliflower, its shape is considered a fractal, meaning that each bud is composed of smaller buds which form a logarithmic spiral. (Trot that one out at your holiday dinner!) This cauliflower, which you might also find under the name Roman cauliflower, is rich in both vitamins C and K, fiber and carotenoids. You can eat Romanesco cauliflower raw, but my new favorite way to eat any variety of cauliflower is to roast it on high heat using this simple recipe from Epicurious.  Doing so brings out its natural sweetness, which makes it pretty hard to resist — my husband and I eat it like candy! If you’re looking for a surprise side dish for your guests, Romanesco cauliflower is a delicious option — and a conversation starter to boot. 

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.

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