Romanesco

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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Romanesco florets on a table before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat romanesco?

Fresh or frozen romanesco that’s been cooked until soft can be introduced as soon your baby is ready for solids which is generally around 6 months of age. 

Romanesco is shorthand for Roman cauliflower—a beautiful, lime-green vegetable with mesmerizing florets that form a fractal that delights adults and babies alike. Grown in Italy since the 16th century, the heirloom vegetable tastes mildly nutty and sweet, more like broccoli than cauliflower, but like its cruciferous cousins, it’s packed with nutrition. Read on for serving suggestions! 

Amelia, 6 months, eats steamed romanesco.
Adie, 15 months, eats steamed romanesco.

Is romanesco healthy for babies?

Absolutely. Romanesco is loaded with vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb plant-based iron. (Iron is a critical nutrient for developing babies.) Romanesco is also a great source of fiber, vitamins B and K, and antioxidants that power your baby’s organs and immune system. Depending on the soil in which it’s grown, romanesco may also contain traces of iron, potassium, and other minerals.

Is romanesco a choking hazard for babies?

Yes if it is raw. When romanesco is cooked (as the vast majority of recipes call for), it shouldn’t pose any unusual risk.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is romanesco a common allergen?

No. Allergies to romanesco are rare. That said, one could be allergic to any food in theory. As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings and watch closely. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

How do you prepare romanesco for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Serve well-steamed romanesco florets whole. If your baby bites off a too-big piece, stay calm and give your little one an opportunity to independently work the food forward, out of their mouth. If you’re nervous about offering pieces of food to your baby, you can always mash the florets before serving. 

9 to 12 months old: At this stage, babies develop a pincer grasp (where the pointer finger and thumb meet) which makes it easier to pick up smaller pieces of food. Try moving down in size to small, bite-sized pieces that have been cooked until soft. If you are comfortable with your baby’s eating skills, you may also continue to serve whole cooked florets.

12 to 18 months old: Offer bite-sized pieces of cooked romanesco and serve alongside a fork to encourage utensil practice. 

18 to 24 months old: At this age your toddler may be ready to go back up in size to whole florets. This will encourage biting and tearing practice. You can, of course, continue to offer cooked romanesco in bite size pieces.

For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.

★Tip: All that vitamin C in romanesco helps your baby’s body absorb iron from plant foods, so try serving the vegetable alongside iron-rich foods like beans, lentils, mushrooms, or tofu.

Recipe: Romanesco with Aioli

Ingredients

  • 1 head romanesco
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayo
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Cut 1/2 cup of florets from the main stalk of the romanesco; store the remaining vegetable in the fridge for future meals. Wash the florets for your baby’s meal.
  2. Place the florets in a steamer basket in a pot with enough water to fill just below the base of the basket. Cover and steam the florets until completely soft, about 10 minutes once the water starts to boil. Uncover and remove from the heat. Let cool.
  3. Make the aioli: Mince the garlic, then add it to a small mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and citrus. Use a fork to whisk to combine. Let rest to allow the flavors to combine.
  4. Place 1/2 cup of romanesco that has been cut in age-appropriate pieces on your baby’s plate. Add a dollop of aioli next to the romanesco. Serve and encourage your baby to pick up and dip the florets in the sauce.
  5. The mild nuttiness and sweetness of romanesco pairs well with creamy dips, bright acidic flavors, and savory spices like cumin, nutmeg, and saffron. We love to serve it with garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and some parmesan cheese!

Flavor Pairings

The mild nuttiness and sweetness of romanesco pairs well with creamy dips, bright acidic flavors, and savory spices like cumin, nutmeg, and saffron. We love to serve it with garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and some parmesan cheese!