Romanesco with rosemary garlic crumbs

A quick easy & delicious side dish – beautiful steamed romanesco cauliflower with golden, buttery seasoned crumbs. Everyone loves its fractal patterns – and it’s flavour!

A week and a half ago, while contemplating fractal vegetables, I asserted that romanesco cauliflower is out of season. I should have known better than to make a statement like that, because shortly thereafter I came across a pile of them in a local farm shop. Oops.

Mathematical veg

Of course I had to buy one! These amazing, alien-looking vegetables are as delicious as they are fun to look at. Although I had no clear plan for my beautiful romanesco, I couldn’t leave it in the shop. Especially when the number of spirals on the head of a romanesco is a Fibonacci number!

Amazing-looking romanesco - fractals! Spirals! Fibonacci numbers!

What exactly is a romanesco?

Interestingly, there seems to be no clear consensus on what a romanesco actually is. Some say it’s a broccoli, others claim it as a cauliflower. The French call it chou Romanesco, meaning “Romanesco cabbage”, although it doesn’t look much like a cabbage to me. I like its German name the best – they call it a Pyramidenblumenkohl or “pyramid cauliflower”. In any case, it’s definitely a brassica of some sort. The flavour is somewhere between a broccoli and a cauliflower – slightly sweet, slightly nutty, robust without being overpoweringly ‘cabbagey’. We are big fans of this beautiful and delicious vegetable.

Beautiful Fractals

It’s almost a shame to take it to pieces to cook and eat it. Fortunately, it’s fractal nature means that each floret is a mini-romanesco! So as you cut it into pieces, it seems to multiply on your kitchen counter. Perhaps it really is an alien life form, and this is part of its plan for world domination. Eek! Just as well we saw it coming and polished it off with some crunchy, buttery, seasoned crumbs. Yum.

I was going to do something altogether more elaborate with this – you can basically do anything you’d do with broccoli or cauliflower (similarly, you can substitute either of them for the romanesco in this recipe, if you can’t get hold of it). In the end I opted for this fairly simple treatment which gives this superstar vegetable a chance to shine, both in flavour, and in aesthetics. It looks gorgeous, and tastes divine!

A single romanesco will serve 4-6 as a side dish.

A quick easy & delicious side dish - beautiful steamed romanesco cauliflower with golden, buttery seasoned crumbs. Everyone loves its fractal patterns!

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Romanesco cauliflower with rosemary garlic crumbs

Course Side Dish
Cuisine European
Keyword cauliflower
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 65kcal
Author Helen


  • 1 medium-large romanesco (or use a regular cauliflower)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 15 g breadcrumbs (approx. 2½ tbsp)
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary


  • Divide the romanesco (or cauliflower) into florets, and wash thoroughly. Steam the florets for 5-7 minutes until tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan, and add the crumbs, crushed garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until golden and crispy. Set aside.
  • Transfer the steamed romanesco to a serving dish and scatter the crumbs over. Serve.


65calories, 6g fat, 1g protein, 3g carbs

If you love romanesco like I do, you’ll probably also enjoy whole roast romanesco with za’atar, and these garlic and parmesan roasted veggies.


March’s theme for the Cooking with Herbs challenge is rosemary. Check out all the other lovely recipes (or submit your own) here.
I’m also linking this up to the Cool Cauliflower linky party, hosted by Karen at  Lavender and Lovage and Choclette at Tin and Thyme.




  1. Romanesco is so architectural and it’s great to see it in a dish where it can shine and not be obscured by everything else. Thanks for sharing it with #CoolCauliflowerRecipes.

  2. Pingback:Garlic & parmesan roasted vegetables - beans, carrots, romanesco - Family-Friends-Food

  3. Pingback:Cooking with Herbs March: Round up of Recipes

  4. I LOVE this fractal veggie – it has such a subtle taste and is brilliant when cooked with cheese and nuts too!

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