Health benefits of Romanesco broccoli

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Romanesco broccoli facts and nutrition

Romanesco broccoli Quick Facts
Name: Romanesco broccoli
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea 'Romanesco'
Origin Eastern Mediterranean and was imported into Italy at the end of the 16th century
Colors Brown or black (Seed)
Shapes Eastern Mediterranean and was imported into Italy at the end of the 16th century
Taste Delicate and nutty
Calories 20 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin C (50.00%)
Sodium (10.73%)
Vitamin B6 (9.85%)
Vitamin B5 (8.44%)
Manganese (6.52%)
Health benefits Good for Eyes, Improves circulation and Heart Health, Fight infection, Loaded with Natural Fiber, Reduces cancer risk, Boost digestive health
Romanesco broccoli, botanically classified as Brassica oleracea ‘Romanesco,’ grows on a cool weather plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with cauliflower, mustard, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, kale, and numerous other edible plants. The plant is native to Eastern Mediterranean and was imported into Italy at the end of the 16th century. From there it migrated north into Germany and France.  Also known as Romanesco broccoli and Romanesco cauliflower in the United States, Romanesco cabbage in Italy, and broccolo Romanesco in France, romanesco is a close cousin of broccoli and cauliflower and grows similarly with a central floret surrounded by broad leafy greens. Common names of the plant are Romanesco Broccoli, Roman Cauliflower, Broccoflower, Romanesque cauliflower, Buzzy Broc, Broccolo Romanesco, Romanesco Cauliflower or simply Romanesco. The word broccoli is derived from the Italian term, “broccolo” meaning “the flowering crest of a cabbage.” As a vegetable Romanesco is a wonderful source of vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber and carotenoids. It helps slow tumor growth and fights off cancer, specifically bladder, breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.

Although in Italy there are a number of recipes dedicated to Romanesco broccoli, in the rest of the world it is usually prepared like conventional broccoli. Like conventional broccoli, overcooking Romanesco will result in a texture some people find unpleasant. The texture is tenderer than cauliflower, making it suited to raw use as crudités. Romanesco broccoli has a milder flavor, more creamy and nutty, and less bitter, than conventional broccoli and cauliflower. The leaves are an underutilized culinary ingredient as they are usually trimmed away before packaging for the market.

Plant description

Romanesco broccoli is a glabrous, erect, annual or biennial herb that may grow about 80-130 cm tall. The plant grows best in organically rich, fertile (high in nitrogen), consistently moist, well-composted and well-drained loams. The plant has tap root system with un-branched, waxy stem thickening upwards. Leaves are medium to large in size and are broad, flat, and oblong in shape. The dark green leaves are thick, fibrous, and stiff with a leathery texture. There is also a prominent central midrib with many small veins spreading throughout the leaf, and the midrib attaches to a dense, green, erect stem. Romanesco leaves are crisp and chewy with an earthy, nutty, and slightly bitter flavor that becomes sweetened when cooked.

This beautiful vegetable is a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli. It’s loaded with health benefits and makes a great substitute in any recipe that calls for broccoli or cauliflower. It is an edible flower of the species Brassica oleracea, and a variant form of cauliflower. Romanesco broccoli resembles a cauliflower, but is of a light green color and the inflorescence (the bud) has an approximate self-similar character, with the branched meristems making a logarithmic spiral. In this sense the broccoli’s shape approximates a natural fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral. This self-similar pattern continues at several smaller levels.

Health benefits of Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco Broccoli is a delicious and weird looking vegetable in the broccoli/cauliflower family that you’ve probably never tasted before. It looks like a bunch of tiny green fractals and it’s used mostly in Italy just like broccoli or cauliflower. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of Romanesco broccoli

1. Good for Eyes

Romanesco broccolis are loaded with Vitamin A, the vitamin that is needed by your eyes in order to function properly. Vitamin A can also reduce the macular degeneration that leads to eye problems!

2. Improves circulation and Heart Health

Romanesco broccoli is rich in iron, which helps to increase the production of red blood cells, improving circulation and heart health. An increase in circulation can also help your brain by supplying more oxygen and nutrients to your noggin’!

3. Fight infection

Romanesco broccoli consists of numerous antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may help your body fight off infection and disease.

4. Loaded with Natural Fiber

Due to the wonderful amount of natural fiber, Romanesco broccoli goes a long way in managing your cholesterol and blood sugar and is great for your digestion.

5. Reduces cancer risk

Fiber and antioxidants in Romanesco broccoli helps protect you from free radicals that can lead to cancer and other health problems.

6. Boost digestive health

Like broccoli and cauliflower, Romanesco broccolis are loaded with healthy digestive fibers that will do wonders for your digestion and waste elimination!

Traditional uses and benefits of Romanesco broccoli

  • Excessive consumption of vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family help to lessen the chances of developing lung and stomach cancers among others.
  • Consuming vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family too often may lessen the chances of metastatic cancer in a section of patients.
  • If one has been diagnosed with cancer, they should ideally supplement their consumption of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and watercress as these will be helpful in keeping the growth of tumor in check.
  • Romanesco broccoli is packed with vitamin A, the nutrient required by our eyes to function properly.
  • Vitamin A may also be useful in reducing age-related macular degeneration that results in eye problems and eventually blindness.
  • Several vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals found in Romanesco broccoli are very helpful in combating various diseases and infections.
  • Romanesco cauliflowers are also packed with dietary fibers that help to improve digestion and get rid of the waste from the body.
  • The presence of natural dietary fiber in romanesco broccoli also keeps the cholesterol as well as sugar levels in the bloodstream under check.
  • Antioxidant and dietary fiber content of romanesco broccoli is of great help in protecting us from the damages caused by free radicals, thereby protecting us from various health problems including cancer.

Culinary uses

  • Stalks may be eaten like asparagus.
  • In Italy it is usually cooked with garlic, olive oil and white wine.
  • Broccoli can be eaten fresh or cooked.
  • Romanesco leaves can be consumed in both raw and cooked applications such as steaming, braising, stewing, frying, sauteing, and roasting.
  • Leaves are prepared like any other hearty greens such as kale, collards, or cabbage and can often be substituted in recipes as the leaves will not wilt once cooked.
  • Romanesco leaves can be sautéed with garlic, sesame, soy sauce, and ginger for an easy side dish or simmered with other vegetables to make a vegetable broth.
  • They can also be added to basil and olive oil to make pesto.
  • Romanesco leaves pair well with bay leaves, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, shallots, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese, roasted meats, chorizo sausage, pancetta, and chicken.


Charred Roasted Romanesco Salad with Green Olive Dressing

Charred Roasted Romanesco Salad with Green Olive Dressing



  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Halve the Brussels sprouts. Cut the leeks into 3 inch long pieces and then slice them lengthwise. Toss the Brussels sprouts, leeks and romanesco florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread the vegetables onto the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
  3. Meanwhile combine the remaining olive oil, olives, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a blender and combine until smooth.
  4. When the vegetables are done roasting, drizzle on the dressing, toss lightly, plate and serve warm.

Garlic and Lemon Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower

Garlic and Lemon Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower


  • 2 cups romanesco florets approximately 1 head
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest plus a little more, to taste
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place florets on the parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and crushed garlic. Mix everything around with a spatula.
  3. Grate the lemon zest over these cruciferous beauties and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until tender and browned.
  5. Serve warm, topped with more lemon zest to taste.

Baked Romanesco Broccoli with Mozzarella and Olive

Baked Romanesco Broccoli with Mozzarella and Olive


  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 medium heads romanesco broccoli (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • cup grated pecorino or Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • dozen soft black oil-cured olives, or another type of black olive, pitted
  • teaspoon roughly chopped capers
  • 4 roughly chopped anchovy fillets
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • Pinch of dried oregano


  • Put a large pot of well-salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut broccoli into quarters and trim away the core and any tough bits. Chop quarters into rough 2-inch cubes. Transfer to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  • Lightly oil an earthenware baking dish. Arrange blanched broccoli in one layer. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Tear mozzarella slices and scatter over the top, then sprinkle with pecorino. Arrange olives here and there. In a small bowl, stir together capers, anchovy, garlic, red pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Drizzle mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, until cheese has browned a bit and broccoli is tender when pierced with a fork. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with a good pinch of dried oregano.

Romanesco Cauliflower Pasta with Olives, Capers, and Parsley

Romanesco Cauliflower Pasta with Olives, Capers, and Parsley


  • 1 head of romanesco (or cauliflower)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 heaping cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
  • large pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 heaping cup chopped Italian parsley leaves, lightly packed, plus more for garnishing
  • 1 lb. dried linguini or fettuccine pasta
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center position.
  • Trim and discard the base of the romanesco and cut it in half, then quarters. Standing each quarter upright and holding your knife at an angle, trim the florets from the core.
  • Most of the florets will fall off or can be separated easily with your fingers (you want the florets to be no larger than an inch in diameter); cut any larger florets in half with a knife to match the size of the other florets.
  • Place the florets on a half sheet pan and toss with 1 heaping tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper.
  • Distribute the florets cut-side down into an even layer, making sure that the florets aren’t touching one another if possible. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway, or until caramelized and tender.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously, or until fragrant. Do not allow it to gain color.
  • Add the kalamata olives, capers, and red pepper flakes to the pan, and sauté for an additional minute or until warm. Taste for salt and pepper. Add half of the parsley to the skillet and keep the mixture warm – off the heat – as you cook the pasta.
  • Boil the pasta until it is al dente, reserving a cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the kalamata olive and caper mixture and roasted cauliflower.
  • Toss the mixture together gently, adding the remaining chopped parsley, and a touch of extra virgin olive oil and reserved cooking water if dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley and parmigiana cheese as desired.






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