Thursday, January 17, 2008

La Fleur de Bretagne

Did you know: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, and kohlrabi are different cultivar groups of a single species, Brassica oleracea or Wild Cabbage?

While it would be a stretch to call either Karen or me a huge fanatic of cauliflower, this so-called flower of Brittany, has been making it on to our dinner plates with increasing frequency. Though cauliflower is typically steamed or boiled, we've recently prepared it in a couple of different ways that we've both enjoyed.

After returning from our trip to Mexico, Karen made a cauliflower and bacon soup using a recipe from one of our favorite San Francisco restaurants, Range. The soup was really easy to make and very delicious - the smokiness of the bacon paired very well with the cauliflower. It was a perfect way to enjoy this vegetable which is at its peak of sweetness during the winter.

A couple of weeks back, I headed out in the rain to the Sunnyvale Farmers' Market, where I picked up three heads of cauliflower for dinner: a purple head, an orange one, and a head of Romanesco. Each of these varietals has an interesting characteristic. The color of the purple version, the type that we previously had with ratatouille, comes from the presence of anthocynanin, an antioxidant that is also found in many different types of berries and red wine. The orange varietal has 25 times more vitamin A than the common white version. And the romanesco is, well, just cool - the fractal pattern is quite fascinating, especially to a math guy like me. We cut up the florets from each of the three heads into bite-sized pieces, tossed them with olive oil and sea salt, and roasted the vegetables in a 400° F oven for 20 minutes. This was also delicious - the two of us polished off more than half of the cauliflower.

The other day, I was shopping at Safeway and noticed some items that I had never previously seen in their produce department: baby cauliflower.

They came in several different varietals, including white, purple, orange, and green.

Somewhere between the size of a ping-ping ball and a tennis ball, these little veggies looked like they came in individual serving sizes.

So, you might ask how many of these miniature flowering heads I picked up. Answer: Zero.


Yep, you read that right... $3 each... I think that works out to about a dollar a mouthful. At that price, I think that I'll just stick to the normal sized versions.


beenie said...

Until I got about halfway through your post, I was going to suggest roasting - it's my favorite way to enjoy cooked cauliflower. I usually add some garlic powder along with the salt and olive oil.

I do the same to brussels sprouts, and they both benefit from the addition of a little bacon.

But then again... what doesn't?

Loren said...

Beenie: Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give it a try the next time cauliflower is on the menu. Isn't bacon a magical food?

eatingplum said...

That is so awesome! I've been to the Sunnyvale Farmer's Market before and have never seen those. I'll have to check it out again. Thanks for the heads up!

Loren said...

Eatingplum: I found the miniature cauliflowers at Safeway (the Rivermark location to be more precise), not at the Sunnyvale Farmers' Market. I bought normal-sized heads of cauliflower at the farmers' market.