Vegetable or Fractal? The Magic of Romanesco

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In the world of cruciferous vegetables, there are a few familiar faces: broccolicauliflower, kale, white and red cabbage. But there are other crucifers to explore, and now that -- as much as we may hate to admit it -- will soon be comforting as the weather gets drearier. Romanesco looks like a modern science experiment, but it actually has a very long history.

A Fibonacci Vegetable

Romanesco is also known as romanesco cabbage, romanesco cauliflower and romanesco broccoli. It was this last name that the Italians used to identify it in the 16th century. Its flavor is similar to that of cauliflower, but its florets are pale green. But perhaps the most interesting part of the crucifer is its algorithmic spiral. The florets of the vegetable resemble a natural fractal, in which each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds. This pattern is arranged in a Fibonacci series. It's beautiful to look at!

How To Cook It

Not only is the vegetable interesting to look at, but it's also an excellent source of nutrients. It's rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and carotenoids. Like all crucifers, this vegetable is excellent for you, too.

From the Organic Authority Files

If you want to start making romanesco a part of your regular dinner rotation, there are several ways that the romanesco can be prepared. The Italians are amongst the only people that have specific recipes dedicated to romanesco. Broccoli romanesco with pasta is a great recipe that allows you to continue to see the fractals.

If you already have favorite cauliflower recipes, you can substitute romanesco. Just try the ones that keep the florets whole: while romanesco is just as delicious in a purée as cauliflower is, you'll lose the beautiful fractal pattern.

Of course, the easiest way to prepare romanesco is simply to cut it into crudités and serve it with your favorite dip.

Image: isaacmao

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