Romanesco is an edible flower, although it’s called broccoli, it’s really more of a cauliflower. This remarkable vegetable has many other culinary uses. It’s great with pasta and in stews and its tender than ordinary cauliflowers.
The vegetable originates in Italy, where it was first identified in the 16th century. Its season is short, and Romanesco flourishes in colder weather, usually being available in March.
Although too often overlooked, it can be substituted in any dish that calls for broccoli or cauliflower, and with excellent results.
It was cultivated in the area of Rome where it was discovered and perfected by Dutch gardeners. Romanesco contains zinc, which helps to fight the loss of the sense of taste or the metallic aftertaste in the mouth.
It has high levels of carotenoids which help promote glowing skin, and iron, vitamin C and folate which combat anaemia and are beneficial for healthy reproductive systems.
Romanesco broccoli has a soft texture and pleasant nutty-cauliflower flavour and can be prepared in the same manner as broccoli or cauliflower, but should be cooked for shorter amounts of time.
It contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates (including sulforaphane and isothiocyanate), which help to increase the liver’s ability to neutralise potentially toxic substances that could lead to cancer if left unattended.
The presence of enzymes like glutathione transferase, glucuronosyl transferase and quinone reductase also help in the detoxifying process.
There are dozens of studies linking cauliflower-containing diets to cancer prevention, particularly with respect to the following types of cancer: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C, plus the flavonoids necessary for vitamin C to recycle effectively.
Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.
Broccoli is a good carb and is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.