by guest blogger Laura Brandt,
How this unassuming, pale vegetable “dresses up” for dinner.
Cauliflower may be a forgotten vegetable, but it really shouldn’t be. This crunchy white crucifer packs a nutritional punch of vitamins and antioxidants, and shows promise as a cancer-deterrent.
But when it comes to flavor, boiled or steamed cauliflower is—let’s be honest—lacking. So this fall, go and grab a cauliflower head at your local farmers market and explore cauliflower cuisine. Like me, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results!
We turned to vegetable aficionado and vegan chef, Ross Olchvary, executive chef and owner of Sprig and Vine to dish on cauliflower. He spoke very highly (and passionately!) of this vegetable and is always eager to experiment and try new recipes. Sprig and Vine, a New Hope gourmet vegan restaurant, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year.
“The great thing about cauliflower is its versatility,” says Olchvary.
“You can prepare it so many ways such as roasting, grilling, or sautéing, and combine it with various ingredients to create very flavorful dishes.”
Sprig and Vine has had many cauliflower dishes on its menu over the past five years. One of the lunch menu staples, “Cauliflower Bánh mì,” is roasted cauliflower florets prepared with red chili sauce, pickled carrot and jalapeño, lettuce, fresh cilantro and mint, with vegan lemongrass aioli on a baguette. This flavorful sandwich is Olchvary’s vegan spin on the popular Vietnamese meat-filled sandwich.
Olchvary’s pickled cauliflower has a “nice and crunchy texture with a wonderful tart flavor” that he uses as a side dish or appetizer. Other offerings include a vegan cauliflower soup.
“The possibilities are endless with cauliflower,” he says. He has experimented with deep-fried cauliflower and a cauliflower-based risotto.
Grilling cauliflower is easy if you know a few inside tips. Olchvary recommends blanching cauliflower for 1-2 minutes, for increased tenderness, then grilling the vegetable. Instead of florets, you can fashion cauliflower into a “steak,” by slicing the head lengthwise through the core about three-quarters of an inch thick resulting in tree-like beauty worth photographing!
Follow the simple recipe below to amaze your friends and family. High-quality olive oil is imperative in this recipe. Try infused oils for variety’s sake and a flavorful surprise.
Like Sprig and Vine, The Tubby Olive in Newtown is also celebrating its fifth anniversary. With over 60 olive oils and balsamic vinegars, you can create flavorful salads, vegetable dishes and other sweet and savory recipes. It’s fun to experiment with these ingredients. Many times, all you need to do is drizzle some infused oil or balsamic vinegar on top of food for a flavorful twist.
The Tubby Olive features recipes with fresh, local produce and offers monthly food tastings with guest chefs from the community. “We love to talk to customers and explore new ways to use our oils and vinegars,” says co-owner, Sharon Huss. “We have a recipe room dedicated to helping customers discover new dishes.”
The Tubby Olive’s Smoky Roasted Cauliflower
1 large head of cauliflower, cleaned
2 – 3 TBSP Tubby Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil
1 – 2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt (or garlic salt), pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cut cauliflower into flat florets, if possible. Spread out on baking sheet or dish.
- Drizzle evenly with olive oil, then coat with paprika, salt and pepper.
- Roast florets for about 25 minutes or until they begin to caramelize. Mix once or twice during the process.
- GRILLED ALTERNATIVE: Cut cauliflower into three-quarter inch “steaks,” coat with all ingredients, and place on the grill. Cook until fork tender (about 10 minutes on each side).
Bucks County writer, Laura A. Brandt, has two main passions: food flavors and horticulture. She studied food science at Michigan State University and appreciates straightforward recipes using fresh, local ingredients. She rarely follows recipes to the letter, and enjoys concocting new flavor creations, part of her heritage as a former flavor applications specialist. You can contact Laura at l.a.brandt