Friday, February 26, 2010

The cauliflower-Olympics connection

Ah, the Winter Olympics. At each of the medal ceremonies, the presenters pass out flowers to the Olympians. This year's bouquets look a lot like green cauliflower (see photos).

The bouquets contain flowers that are grown in B.C. and Canada (but not readily available there in February; they had to be imported from Ecuador), and were made by a company that teaches ex-cons and ex-addicts florist skills.

The predominately green bouquets contain eye-catching green hypericum berries, delicate green spider mums and broad leaf greens. The foliage consists of leatherleaf fern, loops of monkey grass and aspidistra leaves. The handles are also wrapped in recycled paper.

Here's a little about green cauliflower from, and a recipe follows for an Indian dish that features it, aloo gobi.
Native to Holland, green cauliflower has been a notable crop in California since the mid-1980’s. Nicknamed "Broccoflower" by Tanimura & Antle Farm, this descriptive name has been trademarked by the grower. Grown in many regions of the country, it especially thrives in Southern California and along California's central coast.

The same common shape as its white counterpart, the flavor is milder and has a pleasantly nutty aftertaste. The texture is just a little softer and less crumbly than familiar white cauliflower. Green cauliflower is actually common white cauliflower that has been bred with the chlorophyll compound from broccoli.

A very nutritional cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower's nutrients help to fight cancer. Low in calories, fat-free and 92 percent water, cauliflower is an excellent source of folate, fiber and Vitamin B and Vitamin C.

Note: Cauliflower block iodine absorption and should be avoided for those who have a medical thyroid condition. Studies reveal that this vegetable helps metabolize toxins from smoke and lowers risk of tobacco related cancers.

It is delicious raw with dip. Roast curds with truffle oil and a sprinkle of sea salt until caramelized; serve as a tasty and unusual side dish. Make creamy green cauliflower soup; top with fresh micro greens and chive oil. Mash cooked cauliflower; add wasabi to taste for a spunky and healthy dip. Sauté curds in olive oil until soft; add anchovies, garlic and red chilies; cook until tender; serve with meat entrées. Fry curds in olive oil until just tender; sprinkle with favorite spicy seasonings; dip in aioli.

To prepare, do not wash until ready to use. Soak in water a few minutes to remove any debris. Handle with care as cauliflower bruises and discolors easily. One average size head yields about 4 cups. The edible leaves may be prepared like cabbage. To store, refrigerate in plastic bag. Do not store near apples, bananas or melons as these fruits contain ethylene gas and are harmful to cauliflower.

Now for the recipe, adapted from the One Life To Eat blog:

Aloo gobi

3/4 head of a cauliflower, green or regular – separate and wash the florets
Vegetable oil
3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 green chilies, sliced in half, seeds removed
1 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon each ginger paste and garlic paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon each powdered cumin and coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves separated and chopped

Fill a medium sized pot half with water and put to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add the florets and cook for exactly 8 minutes. Drain, plunge the florets in cold water and drain again.
While the cauliflower boils, heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a frying pan. When hot but not smoking, fry the potatoes until they are crispy and light golden in color.
Place the fried potatoes on a kitchen towel to absorb any extra oil.
In a large pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil and add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.
As soon as they begin to crackle, throw in the chopped garlic and slit green chilies.
After a few seconds, add in the chopped onion.
Allow the onion to fry on medium heat until it browns a little.
Now add in the ginger and garlic pastes and the rest of the dry spices.
Mix well and allow the spices to temper for about 30 seconds.
Finally, add in the fried potatoes and the boiled cauliflower.
Mix well and allow the veggies to fry in the pot for another minute or so.
Turn off heat, and garnish with a handful of fresh chopped cilantro leaves.

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