When I see a vegetable like this, a flamboyant cauliflower, I am reminded that there is so much that I do not know about food.
For example: where do these colors come from? Why do some vegetables do double-duty in the design department, appearing now green, now orange, now purple? It is humbling to know so little about a vegetable, and yet to like it so much.
Of course, it's an antioxidant, anthocyanin, which is responsible. If there weren't already so much talk about antioxidants in the nutritional news, I might be excited by the prospect of eating a colored vegetable with health benefits. But I don't need to know that this vegetable is good for me to know that it tastes delicious and is nourishing in other ways.
This is what I do with cauliflower when I can get my hands on the freshest sort:
Fragrant Purple Cauliflower -- Ai Lu's recipe
Take one head of purple cauliflower, or yellow or white cauliflower, or broccoli even (they're almost the same -- did you know?). Wash, trim, and discard most of the thick stalk. Cut the florets into managable, Chinese-stirfry-sized pieces. Blanche in salted, boiling water for about 5-8 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Drain in a colander. In the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon spicy paprika, then add 1 tablespoon pinenuts or other fragrant nut, and stir for another minute. Add the drained cauliflower, and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a side to hearty stews, medium-rare beef, and fettuccine alfredo.
This was the cauliflower that we couldn't stop eating in the last few days, the one that has me happy about the arrival of cold weather in New York, and the harvest that I'll see at the Morningside Heights farmers' market tomorrow morning, granted I get there in time.
What else are you looking forward to this fall, as the nights get longer and the days get colder? What dreams of cauliflowers and kings do you harbor?