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Dark Days Challenge, Starring Orange Cauliflower

The Unicyclist and I didn’t get much in the way of fresh produce last week from our CSA share with Crooked Sky Farms.  The farm is not to blame, however.  The Unicyclist was on veggie pickup duty, and he managed to barter and swap our citrus and one set of greens for an important storage items for us: wheat berries!  The Unicyclist knows what’s up, which is why we now have three small baggies of wheat berries to make into flour and expand our local cooking possibilities.

I love the Unicyclist.  Not just for his bartering skillz, but those don’t hurt.

In any case, since he managed to barter some of our fresher goods for other people’s wheat berries, we decided we’d better make a stop by Crooked Sky’s booth at the Ahwatukee farmers’ market this morning to ensure we’d have enough produce to see us through until the coming Thursday.  I am awfully glad we went, because that’s where we discovered this beauty.

That, gentle readers, is Orange Cauliflower.

(I thought it merited the caps.  Don’t you?)

Isn’t it stunning?  Apparently, commercial Orange Cauliflower is a hybrid between a non-engineered mutant orange cauliflower and the standard whites.  It’s also a bit sweeter, a lot higher in beta carotene, and much more striking than its pallid (but also delicious) cousin.

I had to have it.

To be fair, plants in general fascinate me.  Edible ones obviously have an additional attraction.  The orange cauliflower went into the bag, along with broccoli, eggplants, onion, garlic, spinach, and salad greens, plus a handful of saucing tomatoes from McClendon’s Farm.  Yes, it’s that whole “warm climate” thing again. The tomatoes are greenhouse grown this time of year, but everything else is not.  I should actually post an update of our own patio garden sometime soon so you can see what’s happening at our house in January.  I’ll get on that.

I decided to cook up something simple which would preserve the color of the cauliflower, eventually whipping up two different dishes to make sure we got both our greens and our proteins.  First up, I heated some amazing basil pesto-infused grapeseed oil from the fantastic Wildtree gift box my mom got me for Christmas, then I quickly sautéed I’itois onions along with steamed eggplant, the cauliflower, and the cauliflower leaves (yep, the leaves are both edible and tasty).  I reserved some garden parsley and basil to toss in at the end.

Meanwhile, I combined native brown and white tepary beans (from the Guadalupe farmer’s market) in a saucepan with some sage and parsley from my garden, ZAP seasoning from the Santa Cruz Chili and Spice company near Tucson, a couple of the saucing tomatoes I had picked up that morning, two small CSA red potatoes (cubed and boiled), and the very last of some neglected frozen peas (not local).

It was quick, it was filling, it was good, and it looked pretty. (The picture below doesn’t do it justice.)

I still have half a head of the cauliflower remaining.  Part of me wants to snack on it raw for the next few days (I do love raw cauliflower, and this one is so pretty), but another part of me is imagining what a gorgeous soup it would make.

Such decisions.

Although I am a little sad that we didn’t get any more sunchokes this week, the Orange Cauliflower made up for that.  Even better, it has ensured that January still fits very well with the theme of “new-to-us” foods for this month’s Dark Days of Winter Challenge over at Urban Hennery.

Huzzah!

8 comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Mangochild January 26th, 2009 2:32 am

    It *is* fun playing with the food. Have you seen the purple cauliflower? Amazing. I got tons over the summer and had some surprised faces at the dinner table when I served it! Yours looks like a plate of sunshine amid the eggplant. :-)

  2. Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good? January 26th, 2009 8:29 am

    You know, I’d always assumed orange cauliflower was the result of some laboratory/marketing venture. But non-engineered you say? By golly, I stand corrected! And I agree, it WOULD make a lovely soup.

  3. Sizz January 26th, 2009 10:22 am

    They call it cheddar cauliflower here which brings to mind some lovely cheesy, cauliflowerous soup.

  4. Spinachtiger January 26th, 2009 12:07 pm

    I would love to see this in a beautiful soup, perhaps playing up on the orange. Something with nuts. I’ve never seen orange cauliflower before, but it sure does look more appetizing than white. I love it all though.

  5. Kathleen January 26th, 2009 6:59 pm

    You can add it to mac and cheese and no one will know it’s there; very yummy and healthy.

  6. Gilda January 26th, 2009 8:58 pm

    About your miso comment on Heidi’s blog: Have you ever tried South River Miso? It is fabulous. I live in Canada but I order from South River anyway. Try their 3-year barley or their sweet white…or…they’re all good. Their url is http://www.southrivermiso.com/

    I notice you and Heidi and others call it “miso paste.” Is this an American locution? We just call it miso.

    Sorry. This isn’t about orange cauliflower. But I like cauliflower; white, green,and orange too.

  7. [...] were no sunchokes to play with this week for Laurel; instead, she got a beautiful head of orange cauliflower which she sautéed with pesto infused oil, onions, eggplant and the cauliflower leaves… who knew [...]

  8. Laurel January 28th, 2009 10:05 am

    Thanks for the tip, Gilda! I haven’t tried South River yet…haven’t seen it. I’m very interested, though. I will keep my eyes peeled.

    I never paused to think about it, but I guess we do call it “miso paste”…until it’s in a dish. The it’s miso. :)

    And isn’t cauliflower grand? I want to find one of those purple ones some readers have been talking about!

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