Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cauliflower from my Hometown

Whenever I visit the farmers market in my hometown, I am overwhelmed by the great number of stands selling fruits and vegetables. I have to admit that I have never seen anything as impressive in the US and only the open-air market hosted by Geneva's Plaine de Plainpalais was comparable to this one, which is located in a relatively small provincial city in Poland.

All the products sold are very fresh and most of them, including eggs, are genuinely organic. Although you can find there only about four kinds of lettuce, I am sure that there are not many places in the world, maybe with the exception of Italy or Spain, where you can find so many--probably around twenty--different kinds of tomatoes. And they all are wonderfully ripe and tasty. There is also an enormous variety of potatoes, and many different types of cucumbers and peppers. Green beans are green only in their name as they come in various colors, from purple to white, and in many shapes and sizes.

Behind each stand there are mountains of cabbage and of course cauliflowers--large snow white curds, which are very fresh and aromatic in an earthy sort of way. Without any hesitation I have chosen the biggest cauliflower curd (in Poland we always say "cauliflower head" though) I could find for today's dinner and I will prepare it in a traditional Polish way with buttery, crispy bread crumbs, and I will serve it accompanied by a tomato salad. But can anyone else anywhere in the world get excited like me about a cauliflower cooked in such a simple way? True, a simple cauliflower tastes really great only when it had been grown locally in a good soil, with the right amount of water and sun, and was harvested in the morning of the very same day it was sold at the market.

Probably this is the reason why I do not cook it as often anymore in my American home, and if I do, I typically serve it in béchamel sauce or baked with garlic, since both methods can make even a supermarket cauliflower taste rich and interesting.

Cauliflower Pie

1 cauliflower,
1 egg,
3 cloves of garlic,
1 tbsp of sour cream,
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese,
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg,
1 tbsp chopped parsley,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Divide cauliflower into smaller pieces and cook in salted water until almost soft.
3. Mix the whole egg, cream, and Parmesan cheese together.
4. Cool slightly the pieces of cooked cauliflower and, using food processor, break them into smaller rice-like pieces.
5. Add to the cauliflower the egg mixture, add chopped parsley and crushed garlic, and mix well.
6. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
7. Put cauliflower in a buttered oven-proof dish and bake for 35–45 minutes, or until the it turns slightly gold at the top.

Cauliflower prepared this way can be served as a self-standing, vegetarian dish and will taste even better with a tomato salad. It can also accompany any meat or fish. If enriched by adding chopped, smoked ham, it turns into a very rich meal in itself. It is not very photogenic but it tastes better than it looks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Świetne zdjęcia! Wypróbuje sałatkę z fasoli, akurat na mój poziom energii w kuchennych eksperymentach :)