Romanesco is a unique cross between broccoli and cauliflower. The heads consist of florets that grow in descending spirals, giving the vegetable a striking, fractal appearance. The color is an interesting chartreuse, or you might even describe it as neon green. Italian Romanesco broccoli is not only fascinating to look at, it is rich in flavor and nutrition. It’s no wonder Italy’s finest gourmet chefs love the broccoli because of its earthy, slightly nutty flavor.
Italian Romanesco Broccoli History
Heirloom Romanesco Italia broccoli is popular in Italy, where it has been grown since the fifteenth century. This definitely qualifies Romanesco broccoli among the heirloom broccoli varieties, which means the seeds have been passed down from generation to generation.
Although the plant definitely originates from Italy, sources disagree about its exact birthplace. Some say Romanesco broccoli originated in northern Italy, while others think the plant hales from the Mediterranean coast, in the area extending from Naples to Rome.
In recent years, it has become popular among organic farmers in California, where it is available in markets from late September throughout the winter months.
Romanesco Broccoli Growing
Although Italian Romanesco broccoli is easy to grow, it may not be the best choice for gardeners who live in tropical climates, as the plant is frost-hardy, prefers cool weather, and tends to bolt in heat. However, in temperate zones, you can plant for harvest in spring and autumn.
Plant Romanesco broccoli in full sunlight and well-drained soil that has been amended with organic matter. Allow plenty of space; the seedlings may be small, but the mature plants are huge. Although information indicates a minimum of 18 inches, experienced gardeners recommend 24 to 36 inches for each plant. Fertilize regularly, as Romanesco broccoli is a heavy feeder.
Harvest the vegetables while the heads are firm and tight, before it begins to loosen and go to flower