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Learn how to prep, cut and roast Romanesco! This recipe for roasted Romanesco is simply the best way to enjoy the delicious, distinctive vegetable, a relative of broccoli and cauliflower. To cook, toss the florets on a sheet pan with lots of olive oil, garlic and seasonings and roast for about 20 minutes. This recipe can be made with broccoli as well.
Have you seen a chartreuse-green vegetable in your market that looks like a psychedelic version of cauliflower? That would be Romanesco. Do you wonder what it is and what the heck to do with it?
This recipe walks you through the steps to make the most of Romanesco’s incredibly sweet and nutty flavor. Roasted Romanesco is easy to prepare, and is ready to serve in about 25 minutes. The tender, caramelized nuggets are an excellent addition to a meal as a side dish, or it can be combined with pasta, rice or beans for a vegetarian meal idea.
I’ve always felt that roasting any type of brassica (hello spicy roasted cauliflower!) is one of the best ways to enjoy vegetables, and roasted Romanesco is a perfect example.
Learn about Romanesco
- Also called “romanesco broccoli” or “romanesco cauliflower,” the vegetable is actually neither of those. Romanesco is a member of the Brassica oleracea family, which means it’s a botanical cousin to cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
- Romanesco was first cultivated in Italy in the 16th century.
- The texture of Romanesco is a little more delicate than its relatives, and it tastes sweeter and nuttier when cooked.
- Whether you want to name it fractal broccoli, Roman cauliflower or Italian broccoli (as some do), know that it resembles cauliflower with a geometric spiral form, and has a gorgeous acid green color.
About the ingredients
- Romanesco: Look for this incredibly interesting-looking type of Brassica at farmer’s markets and some grocery stores. Choose heads that are free of browning or bruises, preferably with the outer leaves still attached (which is a sign of freshness). Romanesco heads are usually smaller than a cauliflower, with an average weight of 1 1/2 pounds. I’ve experimented and found that two medium heads yield 7-8 cups of florets, a perfect amount for 4-6 servings.
- Olive oil: Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. It’s the key to delicious flavor AND wonderful caramelization. I use a generous amount, and sometimes drizzle a bit more over the Romanesco just before serving.
- Garlic: Use a plump clove of fresh garlic for the best flavor. Add it halfway through roasting to prevent it from burning in the hot oven. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, tossed with the olive oil and seasonings.
- Parmesan cheese: Add grated cheese to the hot Romanesco just after removing from the oven. It will melt into a blanket of cheese instantly! Other cheeses that pair with Romanesco include feta, goat cheese, aged Cheddar, Gouda or blue cheese.
- Chopped parsley: Fresh chopped parsley or tender sprigs look pretty on the plate. You can use another tender herb you enjoy, such as chives or basil.
- Optional seasonings: Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of crushed red chili or rinsed chopped capers to the finished dish.
How to prepare
Roasted Romanesco with Parmesan
- 2 heads (1.5 kg) romanesco cauliflower, approximately 2¾-3 pounds total, untrimmed (to yield 7-8 cups florets)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 (220 C) degrees.
- Trim off the base of the Romanesco and remove any tough or damaged leaves. Reserve smaller tender leaves. Slice into quarters (or eighths, if the heads are large). Break off the florets with your hands. Roughly chop the tender inner stems and tender leaves.
- Transfer the Romanesco to a rimmed sheet pan large enough to hold it without crowding (15"x10" is a good size). Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Spread the pieces out in one layer.
- Roast 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan, and stir the pieces around. Continue roasting 10-15 more minutes, until the florets are tender and the edges are browned.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheese and parsley over the Romanesco. Transfer to a platter and serve.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Other cheeses that pair with Romanesco include feta, goat cheese, aged Cheddar, Gouda or blue cheese. Add the cheese as soon as the pan comes out of the oven so it will melt.
- Add the garlic halfway through roasting to prevent it from burning in the hot oven. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, tossed with the olive oil and seasonings.
- Roasted Romanesco will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm it in a 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes.