The Vegetable Butcher Shows You How to Break Down Romanesco
Romanesco is stunningly, see-it-to-believe-it beautiful. Its fluorescent cone-shaped head, comprised of intricate spiraling florets, is almost too compelling and pretty to butcher. Don’t let that stop you! As nice as romanesco is to look at, it’s even better to eat. (I recommend roasting romanesco or lightly steaming it.)Romanesco may appear complicated at first glance, but you can break one down in no time.
How to Break Down a Romanesco
1. Cut the base of romanesco if a thick stem protrudes beyond the florets. The stem should be flush with the base of the romanesco.
2. Position the head upright against your board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut straight through the middle of the head — tip to base.
3. Place the halves flat against your board and cut straight through the middle of each half to produce quarters.
4. Stand each quarter upright. At an angle, slide your knife between the florets and the inner stalk — this will release the florets from the core in one motion. Pull the florets apart if needed. Any florets that sit above the core may hold together. Cut them to match the size of the other florets for even cooking.
When you really want to show off romanesco’s full form, buy the sweet little baby romanesco or smallish heads. Give them a quick steam and serve them whole. They make a fantastic vehicle for a dip, vinaigrette, or sauce — just pull apart the florets, dip, and repeat like an artichoke.
→ Romanesco Tip: Romanesco usually comes with its leaves still attached — good thing, because they are tasty. Massage them with oil and add them to a baking pan for roasting; bake until they are crisp. Sauté the leaves (think of them like kale), or add to whatever treatment the florets receive.