Valley Bounty: Cauliflower

The name “cauliflower” has its roots in the Latin words for cabbage (caulis) and, well, flower (flos), though maybe that second part is obvious. Cauliflower is indeed closely related to cabbage; both are cultivars of the same species, Brassica oleracea, along with kale, Brussels sprouts, and the cauliflower’s green doppelganger, broccoli—though unlike broccoli, the edible portion of which is mainly flower buds and stems, the edible part of cauliflower is an undifferentiated mass of cells called a meristem. If left unharvested in the right conditions, the densely-packed meristem will separate and grow into stems and flowers in a process called “bolting”.

One of cauliflower’s real strengths is its versatility—it’s great raw, roasted, fried, mashed, and just about any other way you could think up to prepare it. A quick, simple preparation I like quite a bit is to chop the head into roughly bite-sized pieces, toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned and crispy. You can augment this basic approach with spice mixtures like chili powder or curry powder, or with a splash of teriyaki sauce or hot sauce—cauliflower’s mild sweetness can accommodate a wide variety of complementing flavors.

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