Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower with seasoned panko breadcrumbs is an easy veggie side dish recipe. This funky looking vegetable is kid-friendly, easily vegan, and is fast and easy to make.
Do you ever walk down the produce aisle and stop in front of the green spiral cauliflower thing and say omg wtf is that?!
Friends, that thing is Romanesco, and I am here to tell you that it’s freaking delicious. I first bought it because I thought my toddler might think the freaky looking vegetable was cool… which he did, but when I put it on his plate he took one look and said, “I don’t like it!”
And thus, we have arrived at one of life’s great mysteries: knowing you just don’t like something you haven’t even tried.
But, I like Romanesco. In fact, I like it a lot. And I think you’re going to like this Roasted Romanesco dish as well. Topped with buttery, crunchy, seasoned Panko bread crumbs? This is a vegetable that’s worth getting freaky with.
What is Romanesco?
Good question. Romanesco is a member if the Brassica family, along with broccoli and cauliflower. Although it might look like it was created in a modern food lab, Romanesco has actually been around since the 16th century.
Some folks refer to it as Romanesco broccoli, but Romanesco cauliflower would describe the taste a little more accurately. You may also hear it referred to as Roman cauliflower or Broccoflower. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a bit sweeter than either broccoli or cauliflower, and very delicious
My math nerd husband would like you to know that Romanesco is a fractal, because each of the spiral florets is comprised of teeny tiny spirals that go on for basically all of infinity #themoreyouknow
*I* would like you to know that Romanesco florets are easier to break apart than cauliflower, and less messy to break apart than broccoli. It’s basically my dream vegetable.
How do you cook Romanesco Cauliflower?
It’s easy to get your Romanesco mojo flowing! You can eat it raw, steam it, sauté it, or, like we’re doing today, you can roast it. If you’re looking for a Romanesco recipe to try, you can pretty much use it interchangeably with cauliflower in 99.9% of all recipes.
Today we’re making a simple Roasted Romanesco recipe, which we’re sprucing up with buttery toasted Panko breadcrumbs seasoned with parsley and Parmesan. The triple P seasoning trick serves up crunch, salt, and herby goodness all at the same time. You’re going to love it.
How do you make Roasted Romanesco?
Start by taking your Romanesco cauliflower and busting it up into florets. Place the florets in a large bowl, give them a generous drizzle with olive oil, and season with some flaky salt.
Spread the Romanesco florets out onto a sheet pan. Roasted vegetables, like me, are at their best when they’ve got adequate personal space. If you crowd them into the pan they’ll steam and won’t come out crunchy. I tend to use two sheet pans to give my veggies enough space, whenever I can.
Now toss ’em into a nice hot oven to roast. Please note! Not all ovens are created equal, and I do believe that mine runs on the hot side. I’ve also got a convection oven, so gloriously browned and crunchy roasted Romanesco takes about 20 minutes in my oven, but it might take longer in yours.
Much like a dude jumping into a cold lake, roasted vegetables are prone to shrinkage. So while it looks like a ton of raw Romanesco, you’ll end up with a reasonable amount once roasted.
While your Romanesco is roasting, get your seasoned Panko ready. Melt the butter in a small frying pan, and add the bread crumbs to toast over medium heat. Stir frequently, and when you see that they’re getting browned and toasty, remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the bread crumbs into a small bowl.
Allow the bread crumbs to cool slightly, and then stir in the parmesan and finely diced parsley.
When the roasted Romanesco is ready, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Scatter with the seasoned Panko bread crumbs, and serve.
I love this Romanesco recipe hot out of the oven, but I’ve also eaten it cold and at room temperature, both of which are perfectly pleasant. The Romanesco won’t maintain it’s crunch for long, so if it’s crunch you’re after, then please do serve this dish immediately.
Pro tips / recipe notes:
- Roasted Romanesco is a great vegetable side dish, but it can also be part of a delicious and healthy main. I like to serve it for lunch over quinoa and topped with a soft-boiled egg.
- Where do I buy Romanesco? Check the produce aisle of your regular grocery store – it should be located near the broccoli and cauliflower. If not, chat to the friendly people at your local farmer’s market or CSA program about where you can find it.
- I can’t find Romanesco! Bummer, man. But you can totally use cauliflower in this recipe instead.
- Where do I buy Panko breadcrumbs? Check your Asian food aisle for Panko, but if you can’t find it you can use regular bread crumbs instead. They’ll be slightly less crunchy, but we’ll all survive.
- Can I make this recipe vegan? You bet you can! Just replace the butter with olive oil and replace the Parmesan with nutritional yeast for the seasoned bread crumbs.
- Do you have another Romanesco recipe to recommend? You can use Romanesco pretty much anywhere you’d use cauliflower, so you could use it in these Roasted Cauliflower Tacos or Roasted Cauliflower Hummus Bowls, for example.
- Can I roast frozen vegetables? You bet you can! Here’s a guide to roasting frozen vegetables to help you out.
Hey Nutrition Lady, is Romanesco cauliflower healthy?
You bet it is! Romanesco is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, Romanesco is loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. It is a great source of vitamin B5, potassium, and a good source of protein, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins B1-3, and iron.
Additionally, Romanesco is high in dietary fiber, which is great for gut health and for helping to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:
Roasted Romanesco with seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 1 large Romanesco cauliflower about 2lbs / 900g
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- flaky salt and pepper
- 6 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 Tbsp parsley finely minced
- Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Rinse the Romanesco and break into florets. Toss them with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a single layer over two large baking sheets.
- Place the Romanesco into your pre-heated oven, and roast for 20 - 30 minutes, until browned and crispy.
- While the Romanesco is roasting, prepare the Panko bread crumbs.
- Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the Panko, and toast, stirring frequently, until nicely browned.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the Panko into a small bowl to cool slightly.
- Add the Parmesan and parsley, and mix to combine.
- When the Romanesco is finished roasting, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with seasoned Panko bread crumbs, and serve.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.