Romaneso Broccoli and pug
Garden of Eatin', Vegetables

My, What Big Broccoli You Have!

There’s something in my soil that’s been turning up some incredible (and incredibly large) veggies this season… First there was Turnip Gigante. Then came Gigante d’Inverno Spinach. Now there’s the Really, Really Big Broccoli. Also known as… Broczilla!

Romanesco Italia broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is sometimes called Romanesco cauliflower, considered a closer variant of cauliflower, though it is technically neither. It belongs to the same family of flowering Brassicaceae plants and its leaves are also edible.

This hefty head of light green florets was wrapped in huge leaves up to 2 feet long, and weighs at least 25 to 30 pounds (heavier than my pug!). The mature plants are gargantuan, though initially, the seedlings seemed innocuously small and fragile. Growing instructions say to space the plants 18 inches apart, but I think 24 to 36 inches would actually be better. You need a lot of space in your garden for these babies!

The Romanescos took all winter to grow, starting from seed in early November and growing slooooowly through early April (I almost thought I got cheated). They eventually flourished into 3-foot-wide and 3-foot-tall Italian monsters, but did not sprout heads until a couple weeks ago.

I plucked this head a few days too late and the tightly spiraling, beautifully intricate, natural fractal pattern that this plant is known for had already lost its artfully meticulous form. But despite its massive size and “misshapen” head, the Romanesco was as fresh and tender as can be, with a texture similar to cauliflower and a flavor that’s slightly sweeter.

Even my pug finds it tasty.

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