Roasted Romensco

We had fractals for dinner.

I was immediately attracted to this strange looking vegetable at the farmer’s market yesterday. It was labelled a romensco and further research informs me it is a type of cauliflower, better known in Italy than it is here. There are just about zilch recipes on the internet that I could find so I decided to simply roast it in olive oil and garlic, because, what’s not good roasted in olive oil and garlic?

Roasted Romensco

1 head romensco (or ordinary cauliflower if you can’t find romensco)
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
coarse or flaked sea salt (like Maldon), to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop romensco into fractal florets.

Place on a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and toss with garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s easiest to use your hands, coating each piece with the oil. Arrange in a single layer for roasting.

Roast for 40 minute or until fork-tender.

I also made couscous. I brought 1 1/2 cups broth to a boil, added the leftover zucchini guts from last night’s stuffed zucchini, the remainder of a tomato Mark left sitting on the counter after making tomato surprise, and a can of chickpeas. I also added some shallot salt.

Then I covered the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes, then added 1 cup couscous, covered, and cooked for another 10 minutes, fluffing with a fork when it was done.

And here’s a lousy picture of the meal:

What do fractals taste like, you’re wondering? Similar to cauliflower, but sort of earthier and fractal-ier. Pretty darn good, actually. Mark’s thoughts on the matter ranged from “it’s like eating art” to “it’s a little creepy” to “are you sure this is good for you?”, until he tried a piece and exclaimed, “hey, this is actually really good!”. He had a second helping of both the romensco and the couscous and then complained he ate too much.

I’ve been noticing lately that a lot of grown people – especially men – do not like most vegetables. I watched about 70% of the people on my team at work diligently pick all the vegetables out of their catered Chinese food a few weeks ago and was astonished. My husband is always stealing broccoli off my plate and here these people were – in many cases – not just eating around it but removing it so it didn’t even touch and apparently defile their meat. I find this behavior completely bizarre, however, it’s caused me to consider myself even luckier I have a husband who not only went vegan (I never asked him to, by the way), but who happily eats just about any vegetable I feed him. And he’s starting to eat even more of them! We’re working on leafy greens right now, so expect husband-friendly greens recipes. As for those people who don’t eat any vegetables, I feel like asking them, “but what do you eat?!” I have a feeling their response would be a heck of a lot shorter than my response when asked the same dreaded question.


  1. Zoé Said,

    July 3, 2009 @ 1:01 am

    Sure it would be short! And these are the exact nosy people who would be asking you the same exact question!!!
    I have luck too, my partner went from removing vegetables meat eater to mostly vegetarian. It was a really long path and only tricks would make him eat his vegs at the beginning!

  2. Jes Said,

    July 3, 2009 @ 2:21 am

    It would be a short answer. My brother still eats only “brown” food, you know, plain meaty food. It’s depressing (especially since he has a kid now and I fear the kid is doomed to bad eating habits. Alas). But the romanesco looks fabulous! I’d love to get my paws on some soon to play around with 🙂

  3. Courtney Said,

    July 3, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

    Yum–roasted veggies are soooooooo good! If only I had AC and it were not a zillion degrees and humid out–ugh.

    I feel the same way! When people ask me what I eat, I always want to ask them what THEY eat, just for kicks. But, of course, I am a nice polite vegan, so I never do … :o)

    Looking forward to that greens recipe!


  4. Alexis Said,

    July 3, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

    I have a coworker who pretty much hates all vegetables. I think lettuce and canned zucchini (???) are the exceptions I remember.

    I don’t remotely understand.

  5. Lisa Goldstein Kieda Said,

    July 3, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

    You weren’t joking about “fractal foods” – look at the following link –

    Thank you for your wonderful stories/photos/recipes

    Lisa from Salt Lake City (but living in Tucson for the summer)

  6. Xiaolu Said,

    July 5, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

    That looks delicious! I think roasting makes most veggies better and have loved roasted cauliflower in the past, though I’ve only tried the non-fractal kind 8). Your photos are great as usual, and it looks like you take at least some photos indoors under artificial lighting. I’ve recently decided to give blogging another chance, but have trouble getting pretty photos w/o natural sunlight. If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of camera do you use and do you have any tips for taking indoor food shots? Thanks!

  7. renae Said,

    July 6, 2009 @ 4:09 pm


    I use a Canon Rebel XT, which is an older model but which I’ve felt no need to upgrade because I love it. For most of the indoor shots I take of food, I use this 50mm f/1.8 lens, which allows me to take pictures at night time indoors with no flash and usually without a tripod. Actually, I’m too impatient when cooking to ever use the tripod, which is why I sometimes end up with blurry pictures. In most cases though, there’s enough light. I also have a bounce flash that I use to get natural-looking lighting inside at night with faster shutter speeds.

    What you never want to do is use a direct flash, meaning it is very hard to do with a point-and-shoot camera, though you may be able to find one that has ISO 1600 or even 3200, which will help you take pictures in low light situations. I think Sonys are good at low-light situations but I’ve never owned one personally.

    If you are interested in getting a dSLR and are on a budget, I definitely recommend getting the Canon Rebel XT (you can also find them used): get the body only. The kit lens sucks. Then get that 50mm lens I linked to. It’s a fantastic lens for the price and gives you the freedom to take pictures indoors with no flash or tripod in most situations. You can branch out to other lenses as you can afford it and find the need for them.

  8. Xiaolu Said,

    July 7, 2009 @ 7:43 am

    Thanks a lot!

  9. Erin Said,

    July 7, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

    My boyfriend likes vegetables okay but will never ever buy them or prepare them himself for whatever reason.

    I like your romanesco! I was promised one in my CSA a few months ago but they ran out early and gave me broccoli instead which was fine, but I still have yet to try romanesco. I’d probably have no idea what to do with it either.

  10. Marija Said,

    July 7, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

    Can you tell me where you bought this vegetable (Romensco)? I’d love to try the recipe but I just can’t find it anywhere…

  11. renae Said,

    July 8, 2009 @ 9:09 am

    Marija, I got it from the farmer’s market. I went back today hoping to score another one to chop up and serve raw with dips at a party this weekend, but no such luck!

  12. Josiane Said,

    July 11, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

    Oh, the leafy greens! My gentleman friend wouldn’t touch them when I met him, but he’s now relatively often requesting that we add spinach, kale, or chard to our meals, so there is hope! He still won’t touch lettuce, but no later than yesterday he tried a small mesclun salad…
    I was wondering what you’d do with the leftover zucchini guts; you’ve found a great use for them!

  13. Stacy Said,

    July 16, 2009 @ 8:56 am

    I’ve never heard of romanesco… it looks AWESOME.

    I assume that a lot of people grew up eating overcooked carrots and mushy peas served to (forced upon) them by well-intending parents, and this is at the root of their vegetable phobias. It’s a miracle I’ve come to adore most vegetables despite the years of soggy collard greens and limp broccoli with mayonnaise. Didn’t take any therapy, either.

  14. Stacy Said,

    July 16, 2009 @ 8:56 am

    I’ve never heard of romanesco… it looks AWESOME.

    I assume that a lot of people grew up eating overcooked carrots and mushy peas served to (forced upon) them by well-intending parents, and this is at the root of their vegetable phobias. It’s a miracle I’ve come to adore most vegetables despite the years of soggy collard greens and limp broccoli with mayonnaise. Didn’t take any therapy, either.

  15. Nik Watt Said,

    October 11, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    I found this most-curious vegetable the other day, on sale in Edinburgh’s Morningside area.

    Had I not seen the bottom/root I’d have been none the wiser considering this shot:

  16. onxy Said,

    October 21, 2010 @ 9:38 am

    hi, just browsing your blog for the first time today, i live in italy , i have romanesco steemed and than tossed in way to much basil leaves oliv oil and lemon juice! best thing ever!
    very nice blog! greetings from italy

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