Orange Cauliflower (Roman Style)
I'd occasionally seen these stunning orange cauliflower, along with some dramatic deep purple cauliflower, at our local farmers market. Even though their color held much appeal, their $6 price tag put me off.
Then I read cookiecrumb's recent post on the yellow-orange variety. It hadn't occurred to me that the orange cauliflower not only looked different, but tasted different. I've always loved cauliflower, so I just had to try these for myself.
The farmers' market vendor was already describing the purple and orange cauliflower to a delighted shopper. He explained that he produced the purple ones by feeding the plant a good cabernet and the orange ones, a fine cheddar. Both, he said, were sweeter than your typical white and the orange ones were sweeter than the purple.
In fact, the orange variety were developed by Michael Dickson, a crucifer breeder at Cornell University. A mutant orange cauliflower found in Canada was forwarded to Dickson in 1981. He then crossbred the orange mutant with a tasty white cauliflower to create the sweet orange variety found in markets today. This orange variety contains more beta carotene and 25 times as much Vitamin A as the white variety. (Source: Cornell University NYSAES) This post, therefore, is this week's contribution to Sweetnick's Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).
So, how did it taste? It was, in fact, slightly sweeter than a white cauliflower. I tried it raw, and then cooked it, along with some broccolini, chard, and tofu in the Roman Style (with garlic & lemon). This treatment was pretty and delicious:
I was tempted to go with a goat cheese sauce, but when I found this recipe in Bittman's The Best Recipes In the World, I knew it would a) be a winner b) showcase the flavour of the vegetables. It was simple and delicious - I added pine nuts and tofu and this meal was a treat!
Cauliflower, Broccolini, Chard, & Tofu Roman Style (adapted from The Best Recipes In the World):
1 cauliflower, cut into florettes
8 oz broccolini
4 chard leaves, torn
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz tofu, cut into small cubes
zest & juice of one lemon
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add cauliflower florettes (and peeled broccolini stems if desired) and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Add broccolini flowers and cook 1 minute. Add torn chard and cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook garlic for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the tofu and cook for 1 minute. Turn up the heat to high and add the drained vegetables. Season. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to brown. Add lemon zest and cook 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook one more minute. Serve hot or cold with a light red and some salty olives.