|Ah….isn’t he cute????|
This week at market it is…CAULIFLOWER TIME! Yep, we have a bonanza of cauliflower a the moment. I’m especially thrilled as last year we lost our “early” crop of cauliflower due to nearly 3 inches of rain we got in mid May.
This year we were smart to open up a new (and drier) field and put the starts in a few weeks later. The end result – over 300 lbs of cauliflower harvested and still more to go. (and we’ve got not just white heads, but purple and Romensco cauliflower too). Wowser! And, btw…we have also planted now 3 more rotations of cauliflower to come on now through about mid October!
Like a lot of fresh grown veggies, cauliflower is one of those that is SO SO SO much better when grown locally (and without chemicals) than what you can buy in the grocery store. I think there a lot of reasons for that. One is just how fresh they are. Cauliflower you buy today from the Willowood Farm booth at Coupeville or Bayview was picked yesterday. If you eat in tonite, well that’s just one day out from harvest to plate!
I think there is no way you can beat that time-frame commercially. They pick the cauliflower, pack it and send it to distribution warehouses where it sits for a few days as sales and delivery plans are made. Then, if gets to the grocery store and may sit in their cooler for a few days as well, especially if they already have some cauliflower on the shelves. Eventually it gets put out and again, might be a few more days before you put it in your cart and take it home. I think the quickest scenario on commercially grown cauliflower – field to plate – via the grocery stores has gotta be at least 3 days. But more likely you are looking at five, six even a week out or more….And all that time flavor and nutritional value are fading fast!
Also, I believe that growing things without chemical fertilizers or pesticides (as we do at Willowood) improves the flavor of veggies. I’m sure some folks would argue with me about that. But I’m sorry, a vegetable that grows the way it should, pulling nutrients slowly and surely from healthy soil, sunshine and clean air, has just gotta be way better than one pumped full of chemical compounds. And, btw, brassicas in general (brassica’s referring to anything in the broccoli family like cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, brussel spouts…) are one of the more heavily sprayed vegetables for insects. Ick!
|Intern Paige as The Lorax|
I’ve actually had numerous folks over the years tell me that they cannot eat broccoli, cauliflower, etc…purchased from the grocery store. They get bad tummy aches. But they can eat mine. I’m not sure if it is the lack of chemicals, the freshness or perhaps a combination of all that. But it is good to now!
And finally I think the reason my cauliflower (and broccoli) tastes so good is cuz I let it “ripen.” What I mean by that is, I let my cauliflower get bigger and the “curds” open up a bit. Much more so then is common for the grocery store cauliflower. Why do I do that? Well…I started doing it by accident. It is easy to miss that one to two day “perfect head of cauliflower” window. When you get a small tight head. I started getting bigger, a bit looser heads. But I realized two things #1 – It costs me the same amount of space, labor and time to grow a 1.5 lb cauliflower head as it does to grow a 5 lb cauliflower head (and I am in this farming thing to make money!) and #2 – I think the bigger, looser heads taste better. Sweeter.
I first I thought maybe I was just using the “better tasting” theory to justify letting the heads get bigger. But somebody recently told me in Italy broccoli raab (another member of the broccoli family) is never picked til the heads started opening up to bloom because they are considered at their tastiest then. Which makes perfect sense for cauliflower as well (a cousin to broccoli raab). So there you have it!
So why am I telling you all this. Cuz we’ve got some MONSTERS at market today! Some good 5+ lb heads. And boy oh boy, are they GOOD! If they are too big for you, well….somebody would surely cut one for you. But also remember, that is a 5+ lb of cauliflower picked just yesterday. Even if you only eat a 1/4 of it a sitting you still will get better tasting, healthier for you and a way fresher cauliflower by buying just one and eating on it all week than you would going and buying a head at the store come Wednesday or Thursday.
Some come on down and get you some monster cauliflower! You can also cream it, pickle it, and do all sorts of wonderful things with it! Including making this fabulous roasted cauliflower and garlic recipe…
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a large casserole dish.
- Place the olive oil and garlic in a large resealable bag. Add cauliflower, and shake to mix. Pour into the prepared casserole dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with Parmesan cheese (or better yet, Capriziella from Little Brown Farm) and parsley, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.