Farmers Market Favorite
Pan-Roasted Cauliflower
Apple | Pecan | Indian Spice

Beat it Brussels sprouts. You’ve been kicked to the curb, Kale. There’s a new babe in town and she’s taking over the trendy vegetable spotlight. The new it-girl of the market, She’s been waiting her turn patiently and now……

SHE’S GOING TO BE EVERYWHERE. She’s already on fashionable plates world-wide.

She’s a brassy broad, that’s a fact.  She’s a member of the Brassica/Cruciferous family, also referred to as a cole crop by farmers and growers. Her siblings include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, and kohlrabi, and cousins arugula, bok choy, mustard greens, daikon, watercress, wasabi, radishes, rutabaga, Chinese cabbage, horseradish and turnips.

Maximize cauliflower’s benefits by cutting into smaller pieces and allowing pieces to sit for 5-10 minutes. This breaks down cell walls and allows nutrients to convert to their active form.  (Do the same with all cruciferous vegetables for maximum nutrient value. Who knew?)  One cup of raw cauliflower contains 25Kc., negligible fat, 4.8g protein, 2.5g fiber, is high in Vitamin K and B vitamins, and contains a whopping 77% daily value of Vitamin C!  

Traditionally, common ways to prepare cauliflower have been by boiling or steaming, but this often yields a mushy, bland bite. Chefs are getting creative with cauliflower with the popularity of low-carbohydrate eating. This vegetable darling of Paleo plans and their ilk often replaces starchy potatoes in gratins or mashes, and cauliflower “rice”, pizza “crusts”, and “steaks” are showing up in restaurants, home kitchens, and more than a few social media feeds.

This weekend, using only vegetables and products from the farmers market and spices on hand, I created a quick stove-top stir-fry with the burners available, then took the ingredients home and tested the recipe using the oven to finish the dish. At the market, after stir-frying and spicing, I covered the pan and steamed the ingredients to their finish. It was well-received, and if a stovetop is all you have available, certainly take advantage of that method. Finishing in the oven, however, did produce the best results, so I share that process, below.

Using high heat and a small amount of fat such as this quick pan-roasting method yields a flavorful, slightly al dente bite that lends itself well to robust seasoning.  If you’ve been lukewarm about cauliflower heretofore, It will change your mind about that often tasteless vegetable from the past.

Pan Roasted Cauliflower
Apple | Pecan | Indian Spice

Yields 4 side dishes

  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 2T grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup dehydrated apple rings, chopped
  • ½ cup pecan pieces
  • 1T garam masala

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and dry cauliflower head thoroughly. Remove outer leaves and separate florets. Cut larger florets into halves or quarters. Allow pieces to sit 5-10 minutes before proceeding.

In a heavy ovenproof pan (cast-iron is ideal), heat grapeseed oil to slightly smoking. Add cauliflower stirring frequently over medium-high heat to allow caramelization and crisping of surface. When all sides have browned, add apple rings, pecan pieces, and garam masala, tossing all well to coat. Move pan from stovetop to middle rack of preheated oven. Roast, uncovered about 15 minutes, or until cauliflower florets are just fork-tender.

Serving suggestion:  Topped with pea shoots and a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinegar, return to oven until shoots are just wilted. Toss to combine.

Texas Farmers’Markets vendor sources:

Ingredient Note: Garam masala is a North Indian and South Asian cuisine spice blend found with increasing regularity on grocer’s spice aisles. This all-purpose seasoning is used in soups, stews, curries, dahl, biryani and more. The blend might include some combination of peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, bay, and/or cumin, but more exotic spices and seasonings such as rosebud and asafoetida are also found in some mixtures, which frequently vary from region to region.  If you're feeling all DIY-ey, play around with the proportions and seasonings and make your very own custom spice blend by researching garam masala recipes.

On day 2 of the weekend's dance with the belle of the farmers market ball, we added protein in the form of Brazos Valley Cheese's Marinated Feta, using the marinating oil to saute the cauliflower, spicing with Stellar Gourmet's Pumpkin Pie Spice blend, then tossing in pecans from Yegua Creek Farms and fresh spinach from Joe's Organics. to wilt at the end. 

If you're in the Austin area later this month, please stop by for a bite and some fresh-food chat at my next Market Chef Demo held at Texas Farmers' Markets December 19 and 20 for healthy options for the holiday table. I'd love to see your smiling faces! Find the Texas Farmers' Markets calendar of events on their website. 

1 comment:

  1. I came across your blog while looking for some Indian food blogs and liked a lot. How amazing! I will keep an eye on your post.


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