In the early spring when the garden beds were clear and empty I was offered a small plant called Romanesco that was perfectly happy to weather the spring chill. Yesterday, four months later I harvested one of the giants of the garden, a prehistoric looking Italian green cauliflower, that falls in the realm of six-foot sunflowers and overwrought zucchini.
“Romanesco broccoli, or Roman cauliflower, is an edible flower of the species Brassica oleracea, and a variant form of cauliflower. First documented in Italy, it is light green in color.”
At its peak its giant leaves will span up to two feet in width. In the center will be an emerging single, round, spiny green vegetable. At harvest time it takes a large chef knife to cut it away from the greens. You may break it down as you would a cauliflower into individual flowerets. However, at Bon Vivant School of Cooking our favorite way to prepare it is to steam it whole in about an inch of water until just tender. Meanwhile, sauté a generous cup or more of fresh bread crumbs in butter until crisp and golden. Place the Romanesco in a bowl. Spoon the crumbs over the top and serve with wedges of lemon. Another variation could include fresh grated Parmesan added to the crumbs.