Romanesco is related to broccoli and cauliflower. And although it is referred to as a broccoli, it is more closely related to cauliflower. It has a similar texture to cauliflower and keeps its shape while cooking.
Romanesco broccoli is an heirloom vegetable variety. It has been traced back to the 16th century and was first documented in Italy, hence the name.
Like broccoli and cauliflower, it has a 2 fairly short windows of availability at the Market. The first season starts around early November and usually lasts up until Christmas. During January and February, because of the cold weather and short days, broccoli, cauliflower and Romanesco take a brief hiatus. In mid to late March, with the longer and warmer days, all return to the Market and tend to be available until May. After the weather heats up, these crops are done until the cooler weather returns. In fact, most vegetables that are in the same family (kale, collards, turnips, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts) don't like our hot, humid summers which is why you'll never see any of these vegetables during the summer time.
So, if you are looking to expand your culinary repertoire and want to try Romanesco broccoli, here are a couple of ideas for cooking it. You really can use it in the same way and in the same recipes that you use broccoli or cauliflower. It is good raw, steamed or stir-fried.
My favorite way to cook Romanesco broccoli is to roast it, which couldn't be more simple. To make roasted Romanesco, cut the head into florets, toss them in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread them out onto a roasting pan and put them into an oven which has been pre-heated to 400 degrees. Roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring once. When they come out of the oven, toss a little bit of lemon juice on them and enjoy!
Remember: The Market is in its Winter Hours (10am-Noon) and will be open rain, shine, sleet or snow! During the Winter, the Market starts with the ringing of the Opening Bell at 10am sharp. Some vendors have moved around, so if you are having a hard time finding a vendor, stop by the Market's info table and we'll help you out.
See you at the Market,
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