Romanesco Salad

SaladVegetarian

Ever tried romanesco? It's a little like cauliflower and a little like broccoli, and it makes a GREAT salad! Give this vegetable a try with this simple recipe.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever cooked with romanesco? Also called romanesco cauliflower or romansco broccoli, it is indeed of the brassica family and looks like a mathematician’s fractal experiment run wild.

It’s almost too pretty to eat. But eat it we shall.

Romanesco cauliflower on a countertop

What Does Romanesco Taste Like?

Romanesco is closer in taste to cauliflower than to broccoli, but milder and nuttier than either.

How to Prepare Romanesco

When shopping, look for heads of romanesco that feel firm and heavy. Brown spots are a sign that the romanesco is a little old; a few spots here and there are fine and can be trimmed off, but try to avoid ones with lots of spots. Store in the crisper drawer until ready to use (it will keep for a week and a half or so).

Prep romanesco much the way you would cauliflower, cutting the head into quarters or wedges and then cutting out the tough core. You can break up the wedges into florets at this point, or, as we show in this recipe, steam the wedges and then break them into florets.

Easy romanesco salad in a serving bowl

An Easy Way to Cook Romanesco

For this salad we first steam the romanesco wedges, then lightly toss the florets in a red wine vinaigrette, along with thinly sliced red onion, celery, parsley, capers, and lemon zest. We leave everything to marinate for a bit, so the dressing seeps in, lightly pickling it.

So good! If romanesco is not available where you are, you could easily do the same treatment with cauliflower.

Storing Romanesco Salad

This salad is best served chilled or at room temperature, and will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Try These Recipes with Cauliflower and Broccoli:

Updated February 13, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

Romanesco Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Marinating time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Prep the ingredients while you are steaming the romanesco in the first step.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads romanesco (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)
  • Salt
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large red onion, or one small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 anchovy, minced (optional, omit if cooking vegetarian)
  • 1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil

Method

1 Steam romanesco wedges: Cut the romanesco heads into quarters, stalk to tip. Cut out the tough core and any outside green leaves. Cut again lengthwise.

Place into a steamer basket in a pot with about an inch of water.  Sprinkle the romanesco florets with a little salt. Bring water to a boil. Cover and steam until just tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove romanesco florets from steamer, place into a bowl, and chill.

2 Soak onion slices in water a few minutes: Thinly slice the red onion, across the grain. Place the red onion slices in a bowl and cover with water. This will take the onion-y edge off the onion, making it easier to eat raw in the salad.

3 Make dressing: Smash the whole clove of garlic (not cut, just smash with the flat side of a chef's knife) and place in the bottom of a small bowl. Add the vinegar and salt, stir to dissolve the salt. Add the minced anchovy if using. Then whisk in the olive oil.

4 Marinate the salad: Break up the wedges of romanesco into smaller chunks of florets. Place into a large serving bowl. Add celery, onions (drained of the water), parsley, capers, and lemon zest.

Remove the garlic clove from the dressing and add dressing to the romanesco salad. Toss to coat with the dressing. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour. Even better overnight.

Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to serve.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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10 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Tracy in US

    This salad was delicious and a nice vegan side for an early family Thanksgiving dinner! We modified a bit based on what was on hand – yellow onion for red (still soaked for 10 min!), drop of lemon extract (out of zest), cilantro for parsley, and left out anchovies (added a bit of soy sauce for the saltiness). SO yummy! I added a handful of grape tomatoes (cut in half) because it was otherwise very bland looking without the red onion. Romanesco is so pretty and fun to introduce more people to it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Judi

    I am so thrilled that my market continues to have Romanesco. Making it for the 4th time tonight. What a delicious recipe! Thanks!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  3. Cactus Wren

    Mandelbroccoli!

  4. Mara

    Made this last night – didn’t have any anchovies on hand, but it was fantastic! (I did have to take a picture of the Romanesco before cutting – it is the most amazing looking vegetable) Thanks for the reminder about taking the edge off of onions – very helpful.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  5. Tracy

    How timely! I live in Tokyo and don’t see Romanesco very often. I love the way it looks and tastes, though so I buy it whenever I see it. I found some yesterday and snapped it up, thinking what should i do with it…think I’ll check Simply Recipes. Thanks so much, Elise; this recipe looks really good!

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