Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cauliflower is the New Potato, or Kale, or Something

Consider the cauliflower; a crociferous vegetable grown in cool weather.  Here in California it is available most of the year round.  You can find it on restaurant plates, accompanied by broccoli and carrots, steamed until they are limp, wilted and tasteless.  Cauliflower has erupted in the past year to be the next "it" food, you will find recipes for it from pizza crust, to "planks" that vegans adore roasted in the oven, and now Trader Joes' is selling it riced, so you don't even have to cook it before you use it.
Cauliflower comes in colors, and as you would suspect, the darker the color, the more beneficial it is for you.  White cauliflower contains high levels of vitamin C, A, calcium, folate, and cancer fighting
phytochemicals.  Its brothers and sisters, the purple, green and orange, all contain higher levels of these nutrients.  So bottom line, cauliflower is good for you.  But, how do you make it so that your family will love it.  If they have had that trio of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli residing limply on their plate, you have to work some magic for them to try something else.
Today I decided to try something new; a variation on arancini, the deep fried risotto balls that I love so much, but using cooked cauliflower, and Romanesco instead of the leftover risotto to form the balls.

Romanesco---Love the way this looks

Start by cooking 4 cups cauliflower in boiling salted water until tender.  Drain thoroughly and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Saute 1 finely chopped shallot and 2 garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil until tender.  Cool the mixture, and add to a food processor.
 Process the cauliflower, shallot mixture, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 egg yolks.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust using salt and pepper. 
Using a portion scoop, form the mixture into balls, and roll in panko or bread crumbs.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat 2 to 3 -inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees, and deep fry the balls until golden brown, turning frequently.  Drain on paper towels, and serve warm.

These would make a great snack for Super Sunday.  You can freeze the balls before frying---fry them frozen.  If you would prefer to use less oil, form the mixture into 1/2-inch thick silver dollar pancake size patties, and fry in a bit of oil in a non-stick pan. 

I hope you'll try cauliflower, many people are using cauliflower instead of starches like potatoes, to try and cut down on their carb intake.  I think cauliflower is a terrific vegetable no matter how or when you serve it.  Buon appetito!
cancer-fighting phytochemicals know as glucosinolates - See more at: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Cauliflower_112.php#sthash.u1qVLRLy.dpuf

cruciferous vegetable