Romanesco Broccoli — Fractal Cauliflower

About 30 years ago, I became fascinated with fractals. I had a brand new IBM PC with a CGA monitor, 256KB of RAM and a 5MB hard drive (which seem so huge that I couldn’t imagine using all that storage!). My friend, Gary brought me a disk with a program called “Fractal Magic” on it. I installed the program and started it running.  After three days of processing it produced an amazing image on my screen – of course there was no way to print it, but it was beautiful! And mainly, I was hooked. Over the years I have generated thousands of fractal images. And now I can even print them!!.

OK. I’m back from that little walk down memory lane and ready to tell you about the thing we call it “Dinosaur Broccoli” around our house. The first time I saw it in our local health food store I stopped, dead in my tracks. I was mesmerized by the shape! Right in front of me was a perfect replica of computer generated fractals.

I was face to face with a real, (presumably) live fractal! I could only assume that it was edible because it was with other vegetables. The little tag identified it as Romanesco Broccoli” debated awhile and decided it looked way to weird to eat!

I went home and googled it and found out that is sometimes called “fractal broccoli”. And for those of you fractal fans it is a Fibonacci number – a recursive helical arrangement of cones. As much as I loved that little piece of trivia, I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to eat the stuff.

Thankfully, last year our CSA (community supported agriculture store) included a head of it in our weekly basket. Now there were no excuses, I had to at least try it. After dithering a while, I decided to just steam it. I mean why put a lot of time and energy into something you might not even want to eat anyway?

Turns out the taste was delicious! Imagine a very mild, sweet and subtle broccoli. Then imagine it with the heft and bulk of good fresh cauliflower.  Then put them together and imagine a cross between a good fresh cauliflower and young broccoli. The taste makes sense since this broccoli is technically a cauliflower.

Tastes good and is really good for you too: rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber and carotenoids.

Not it is one of our favorite vegetables. We steam it. We roast it – with just a little olive oil or better yet a little olive oil and garlic. We eat it as a side dish (steam or roasted) add it to pasta sauces or sauté it with other veggies to for a pasta topping and add it to Asian stir fries. I keep meaning to try it as cauliflower “mashed potatoes” but something about the idea of green “mashed potatoes” just seems wrong!

If you haven’t tried it, do your self a big favor and buy some next time you see it! If you like broccoli or cauliflower you will love Romanesco Broccoli.

About Genene Cote

Genene Coté -- Nutrition Advocate, Counselor and Coach who is also a Whole Food Plant Based Eater (vegetarian/vegan), cook and gardener.
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