Friday, May 5, 2017

Is Cauliflower the Hot New Kid on the Block?

Roasted Cauliflower
Every so often an old-time vegetable shoots to the top of the fashionable pile.  Recently it was kale.  Now it seems to be cauliflower’s turn.  If you’re tired of boring old white, this vegetable is even available in different colors—green, purple and orange.

I first became aware of cauliflower’s transformation to hotness when my friend Lynne, who has worked in the food industry for many years, told me that she finally found a non-meat item her husband would eat for dinner—Roasted Cauliflower.  She sent me her recipe, and sure enough, it not only looked good but it also tasted good.

Then last month I went to event featuring a restaurant owner, a TV food presenter and an executive who feeds thousands of people a day at a sports center.  When asked what food was cutting edge today, all of them said, “Cauliflower.”

In a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, nearly a whole page was devoted to a recipe from Sarah Michelle Gellar (better known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  Guess the name of the recipe: Cauliflower Popcorn.

And just yesterday I saw a new version of cauliflower in the fresh produce department—a bag of cauliflower so finely chopped that it looked like puffy rice.  Just the thing if you want to make a Cauliflower Crust Pizza or Cauliflower Fritters.

I guess I’m old-fashioned because I still like Cauliflower in Cheese Sauce—my first introduction to this vegetable.  Eventually I moved on to Cauliflower with Potatoes from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Indian Cookery.” 

Pasta with Indian Cauliflower Sauce
This became a dinner staple until I combined cauliflower with penne pasta and invented Pasta with Indian Cauliflower Sauce.  

Now I’ve discovered an even spicier dish called Benarasi Cauliflower from “The Good Cook: Vegetables”, an old Time-Life cookbook series.  This is my go-to cauliflower recipe at the moment.

Benarasi Cauliflower
Benarasi Cauliflower – serves 4-6 (adapted from “The Good Cook: Vegetables”)  
1 small cauliflower, divided into bite-size florets
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil + more if needed
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves
2 cardamom pods, seeds only
3 plum tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
Begin heating 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan or wok.  Add the cauliflower florets and stir-fry until the florets start to brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the florets to a large bowl or plate.  
Puree the onion, coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, cardamom seeds and chopped tomatoes in a blender.  Pour the blended liquid into the frying pan or wok and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.  
Add the cauliflower florets and stir gently until they are covered with sauce.  Cover with a lid and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the florets can be pierced with a fork.  Serve immediately or reheat when needed.  This dish is also good cold.  
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