Steamed Romanesco, with Mamma’s Famous Garlic Olive Oil Sauce

December 8, 2012

Every month in 2016 I’ll share four recipes as part of Dr. John Douillard’s 3-Season Diet Challenge. My intention is to help you discover the glow we can feel – inside-out – when we eat with the rhythm of the seasons. Each new harvest brings us into balance with the sun, snow, warmth, cold and other changes in the natural world and in our bodies. Starting with this recipe, I invite you to join me in savoring this month’s flavors while experiencing the personal transformation that can come from this ancient Ayurvedic approach to food! (Find more 3-Season Diet Challenge recipes in the categories to the left (under “Recipes”) or in the search bar above.) Enjoy! 

3 Season Diet Challenge with John Douillard

Emma Frisch Steamed Romanesco, with Mamma’s Famous Garlic Olive Oil Sauce Recipe

I could hardly contain my excitement when I opened our winter CSA (farm-share) box on Thursday: romanesco! For the scientific chefs and food-lovers reading this post, the number of spirals on each fractal head amounts to a Fibonacci sequence. For those like me with less data-driven impulses, the romanesco is just beautiful to behold. A work of natural perfection.

This vegetable is best prepared simply, so that every bite can be admired and savored in it’s bright, nutty form. My husband Bobby took the liberty of preparing a romanesco “steak,” refusing to chop through its patterns and instead presenting a steamed half over a bed of rice. I prepared Mamma’s famous garlic-olive oil sauce to drizzle over, with a light flourish of Parmesan.

Emma Frisch Steamed Romanesco, with Mamma’s Famous Garlic Olive Oil Sauce Ingredient

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Steamed Romanesco, with Mamma’s Famous Garlic Olive Oil Sauce

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You can substitute the olive oil in the sauce with melted ghee, for a buttery-garlic drizzle instead.

Tip: Try making homemade ghee. You’ll quickly fall in love! If you’re pinched for time, buy it online or at your local health food store.

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes
  • Yield: 2 entrees


  • Basmati rice – 1 cup (white or brown)
  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon, fresh squeezed
  • Garlic – 1 teaspoon, finely minced
  • Sea salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Romanesco broccoli – 1 head
  • Freshly ground black pepper – A few turns of the pepper mill
  • Parmesan cheese (optional) – 1/4 cup, freshly grated


  1. Add the rice to a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer, covered. Cook the rice for 30-45 minutes (depending on your variety), or until it has fully absorbed the water without becoming mushy. Let the rice rest in the pot for 5 minutes before uncovering.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sea salt. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Fill a pot with 1 inch of water. Place the romanesco directly in the pot or in a steaming basket. Cover the pot with a lid and steam for about 15 minutes, or until the romanesco has turned a softer shade of green and is fork-tender. Drain the water and hold the romanesco in the pot to keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Serve the romanesco on top of a bed of rice, and drizzle with sauce (or allow each guest to add his or her own embellishment).
  5. Garnish with a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, and a scattering of grated Parmesan.

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