Romanesco (Brassica oleracea) is part of the cruciferous family. It is often called broccoflower but more closely resembles cauliflower.
A bright yellow-green, Romanesco is incredibly unique and strangely beautiful. The outer appearance is so distinctive that it has led some to joke that it was seeded here by an alien race (that might also explain the egg-laying mammalian platypus).
The Romanesco is a natural cross between cauliflower and broccoli, the two better-known produce items. It has a flavor comparable to cauliflower with a slightly “nutty” undertone. Scientists and nutritionists consider it one of the most easily digestible vegetables available.
Originally cultivated in Italy, this edible flower is tender, making it a perfect addition to recipes in place of broccoli or cauliflower. The slightly different flavor and interesting look can spruce up tired recipes. Cook times should be shortened to avoid overcooking.
Romanesco Benefits Every Cell in Your Body
Vitamins and minerals are abundant in Romanesco and calories are low, making it a nutrient-dense food that is ideal for the vegan diet.
You’ll find vitamin C, A, and K as well as folate, dietary fiber (though slightly less than broccoli), iron, manganese, carotene, protein, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids in this pretty vegetable – along with so much more.
It is a well-tolerated food for those who have sensitive stomachs.
Romanesco is Naturally…
The health benefits of Romanesco are similar to that of broccoli and other cruciferous veggies.
It improves and protects eyesight, boosts overall immune function, strengthens both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, benefits bone and muscle health, detoxifies the blood, and safeguards the central nervous system (spine, brain, and nerve pathways).
What Does the Science Say?
Romanesco is high in a flavonoid compound called kaempferol, which has been shown in multiple studies to kill cancer cells and prevent the formation of new ones.
The additional presence of sulforaphane and isothiocyanate boost your liver’s ability to remove cancer-causing toxins before cancer develops. Studies to date have addressed cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, prostate, and ovaries.
High content of carotenoids improves skin appearance and tone. The iron, folate, and vitamin C levels make it an excellent choice for those struggling with anemia and infertility.
It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, control inflammation, and improve bone density.
The fiber found in Romanesco aids in better digestion while providing a feeling of “fullness,” which helps to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Being low in calories, it provides a strong nutritional punch without negatively impacting your waistline.
People who have struggled with loss of taste or who regularly experience a “metallic” aftertaste find that the zinc in Romanesco helps to control these conditions.
Late to the Party
Romanesco has been around since the 16th century but it didn’t make its debut onto the world market until the 1990s. That’s why so few people know about this delicious and nutritious vegetable and also why most of the science is linked to broccoli and cauliflower. You can bet that will change over the next decade.
Consider adding it your next grocery trip and then try the tasty recipe below for something a little bit different.
Interesting to look at, delicious, and packed with healthy stuff your body craves, Romanesco benefits are almost too many to mention. You might not have heard about this veggie before but we have to say…go get some!
Steamed Romanesco with Garlic (courtesy of Earthsprout)
- 1 head Romanesco, quartered
- ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 organic lemon, zest
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ nutritional yeast (optional)
- Add all ingredients for the garlicky rub in a small bowl.
- Mix well with a spoon.
- Rinse and quarter Romanesco (save leaves and stem for soups and shakes).
- Rub garlicky mixture over the four pieces.
- Place them in a steaming basket over boiling water. Steam for 4-6 minutes.
- Romanesco should still have a slight “crispness” to it and not be “mushy.”
Toss with prepared quinoa or rice with fresh cilantro, toasted almonds, a handful of sprouts, and a drizzle of tahini. An excellent (and nutritionally potent) main dish for vegetarians or used as a side dish with your favorite meat or fish.