Valley Bounty: Cauliflower

Part of the genus Brassica, cauliflower is a cousin of broccoli, cabbage (cauli is the Latin word for cabbage), Brussels sprouts, and kale. In addition to the familiar white variety, cauliflower cultivars also come in orange, purple, and the green fractal-patterned Romanesco. I’ll cop to not really liking cauliflower well into adulthood, as my familiarity with it was mostly as an unremarkable fixture of anemic-looking crudité platters. But I’ve seen the error of my ways, and know now that cauliflower deserves much better than a dollop of ranch dressing on a paper plate.

If cauliflower isn’t a usual part of your repertoire, I think you’d be well served to prepare it in any of the same ways you would a potato: fry it, mash it, roast it, etc. Lately I’ve been partial to cutting my cauliflower up into florets, tossing in oil, parmesan, and red pepper flakes, and roasting until they just start to blacken, about 25-30 minutes. The slight sweetness of the now lightly caramelized cauliflower combines with the saltiness of the cheese and the spice of the pepper flakes to form an interesting side dish. Try other flavor combinations, and let cauliflower show you it can be more than a vehicle for party dips.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)