BABY GREEN CAULIFLOWER
Cauliflower is not just white. It can also be green, as in these baby green cauliflowers (also known as broccoflower), or orange, or even a startling purple. Other than the color, these are cauliflowers — green cauliflowers. Like the broccoli Romanesco, they are eye-catching with their chartreuse coloring. Just two to four inches in diameter, these infant vegetables are delicate and mild when fresh. You may find them wrapped in leaves which protect the curds and dress up the heads in a charming cloak of green.
Many foods and flavors become the baby green cauliflower. Among them are olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, saffron, pasta, and anchovies. Being in the mustard family, it also takes well to vinaigrettes seasoned with mustard; lush green herb sauces that include sharp capers and bright parsley; and curry spices.
With so many possibilities in the seasoning department, it makes sense to take the vegetable’s unusual color and size into account as a place to begin its preparation. This is a vegetable you’ll want to showcase, and when you have such tiny heads as these, it’s only right to leave them whole to appreciate their unique form.
Baby Green Cauliflower with Black Rice and Salsa Verde
After steaming them whole, I decided to serve the baby cauliflowers nestled into a bed of black rice with a green herb sauce drizzled over all. It’s a stunning way to feature this special vegetable.
¾ cup uncooked black rice (also called forbidden rice)
4 small, whole heads of baby green cauliflower
½ cup parsley, preferably flat-leaf
3 tablespoons mixed herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, thyme, marjoram, or oregano
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 shallot, finely diced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Champagne vinegar or fresh lemon juice, to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Prepare rice according to package instructions. While it’s cooking, slice any tough stems off of the cauliflower, leaving only the tender leaves that surround each vegetable. Also, even the bottoms so that each will stand. Steam over simmering water until tender when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the salsa verde: Chop the herbs and capers. Add shallot, lemon zest, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Mix well, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
3. To finish the dish, make a mound of the cooked rice on each of four plates. Nestle the cauliflower into it, and surround with the sauce.