PURPLE CAULIFLOWER

One of my favorite stalls at the farmers market often has unusual vegetables that are not available from other vendors. They always have several varieties of eggplants and bok choy. They have baskets of chiles I have never heard of. They also have several varieties of cauliflower including the traditional snow-white head and a cheese-yellow variety they call Cheddar. This last time they had several heads of an intensely purple variety.

A while back I wrote about some nearly black haricots verts that turned green when they were cooked. I wound up writing about the water soluble pigments, anthocyanins, that leech out during cooking. It seemed likely to me that the same situation existed with the cauliflower. I asked the young woman at the cash register if the purple cauliflower would turn green when it is cooked. She assured me that it would remain its same amazing color. Of course, I was skeptical so I bought a head to try.

I wound up grilling the cauliflower as thick “steaks” rather than boiling it. That was really not a fair trial, but the woman was right – the cauliflower kept its vibrant color. I guess I will need to go back, buy another head, and plan a more scientific experiment using boiling water.

Here’s the grilled purple cauliflower “steak” along with baked stuffed tomatoes.  I got the beautiful tomatoes from another  vendor at the farmers market. Together they make a nice vegetarian dinner plate.

RECIPES

Grilled Cauliflower “Steak”

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 head purple cauliflower, cut into ½ inch slabs
  • salt and pepper
  • sesame oil

Method

  1. Heat a grill, indoor or outdoor, to high temperature and lightly oil the surface
  2. Place the slabs of cauliflower on the hot surface and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. The cauliflower should stay crisp and get a light char.
  3. Transfer the grilled cauliflower to a plate and season with salt, pepper, and a few drops of sesame oil to taste. Serve.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling on the tops of the stuffed tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fine, dry bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Core the tomatoes and cut in half horizontally. Remove the seeds. With a grapefruit knife or paring knife, remove the fleshy ribs of the tomatoes and chop them finely. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauté pan, sauté the chopped mushrooms for a few minutes until completely softened. Remove from the heat.
  3. Combine the chopped tomato ribs, mushrooms, Parmesan, and bread crumbs.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture between the four tomato halves
  4. Place the tomato halves on a lightly oiled roasting pan in the middle of an oven preheated to 250°F for about 20 minutes while you are preparing and grilling the cauliflower. Serve.

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