It’s probably the math fan in me, but as soon as I saw romanesco available at our local market, I had to buy it and try it. Yes, it’s a cruciferous vegetable. Yes, I’m sure it’s very healthy (lots of vitamins C and K, carotenoids, and, of course, fiber). But my decision to purchase was mostly from an aesthetic perspective.
Spirals occur in many places in nature: snail shells, some flowers, pinecones, DNA, pineapples, and even our galaxy.
But until the other day, I had not seen them occur in a vegetable I was planning to cook for dinner.
While I didn’t pull out a ruler and start measuring to see if its spirals truly fit a Fibonacci sequence, I did take advantage of the opportunity to explain the idea of the golden spiral (a logarithmic sequence that mathematically explains the increasing width of a particular type of spiral) to my 6-year-old. He acknowledged the spirals on the romanesco, mentioned a few facts he learned from a kid’s book we have about spirals (Joyce Sidman’s Swirl by Swirl), and said he thought the vegetable looked a bit like legos.
We also discussed how the spiral pattern on the romanesco was like an edible fractal, an infinitely complex pattern that repeats across scales, with each bud composed of many smaller buds, all in the same spiral pattern.
Not every meal in our house touches on higher mathematics, but I was tickled that this one did.
The romanesco tasted quite good, sort of a milder, nuttier cauliflower taste with a bit of a smoother texture. We ate the better part of two large heads in one sitting.
I prepared the romanesco as follows:
Steamed Romanesco Recipe
Steam the romanesco for 15 minutes or less, depending on how al dente you like your vegetables. I use a steamer basket like THIS.
Place the steamed romanesco in a bowl slightly bigger than the amount of vegetable you have. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste; I apply them generously.
Mix well, and serve.