Oh, Broccoli Romanesco, how I love you. You're delicious and creepy and weird, like an alien vegetable. I know you are misunderstood, but that's only to people who are put off by your freakish appearance and won't take a chance. I, however, understand you completely, and appreciate you to boot. Now jump into this pot of boiling water.
How about you, dear reader? Are you the type that is startled by a vegetable with bizarre, pointed, conical spheres jutting out of it? Be brave, and take my word for it, there is an ample reward waiting. Cavolo broccolo romanesco, as it is officially known in Italian, is surprisingly sweet and mild when cooked tender, more like its close cousin the cauliflower but with a denser texture that holds up well to different cooking methods.
The chill of the autumn market brings broccoli romanesco front and center, both here in New York as well as in its native Rome. A native of Lazio, this vegetable has a noble past, dating back to the days of Julius Caesar. As an occasional Roman resident, broccoli romanesco is that perennial favorite that arrives to brighten my mood when trattoria tables move indoors with the chilly weather. Along with puntarella and fresh oranges, it is one of the few things that makes Rome's rainy season bearable.
Some suggestions for how to cook broccoli romanesco, after the jump.