As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl. Such is the case with my very own mother, who grew up on a farm deep in the countryside of Cuba. By the time she came to the U.S. as a teenager, she had already formed strong memories of farm life. My childhood was riddled with stories of how she and her family ate what they grew. They were “farm-to-table,” before it was fashionable.
From a very early age, my mother spoiled my family with only fresh produce. Instead of a cookie jar on our counter, we had a large basket of lusciously ripe tomatoes, fragrant onions, whole starchy potatoes, or whatever was in season at the time. Despite living in a city so congested with people and buildings, my mother managed to create a produce garden along the side of our house, and we always had the freshest of meals. I only tasted canned veggies at friends’ homes, and thanked my lucky stars that my mother never prepared them in that fashion.
Now that I’m an adult with a home of my own, I long to create my own vegetable garden. However, there are 2 elements in my way. It appears that the green thumb gene skipped my generation, because I have a tendency to kill any plant within eyesight. That whole remembering to water situation is what kills me every time. The second issue is that my home isn’t surrounded by any land. Since I can’t grow my own garden, when I need my seasonal produce fix, and I want the best tasting produce in town, I hit my local farmer’s market.
I recently learned that in other parts of the country, farmer’s markets are only available a few months of the year. However, as California has such rich farms, bursting with produce 365 days a year, we get an outdoor congregation of local farmers all the time. I love making new discoveries at the market, and getting insightful explanations straight from the farmer’s mouths about their unique produce. For instance, on my scavenger hunt yesterday, I came upon a stand with a variety of differently colored cauliflower. There were deep aubergine ones, honey amber ones, and even classic white. I knew cauliflower came in many shades, but I had never seen one with such a peculiar hue and Northwestern pride before. Purple cauliflower? After conferring with the farmer selling this produce, I learned that it tastes the same as traditional white cauliflower. The unique color just serves to remind us that it is the actual flower of the plant we are eating, and that flowers come in all sorts of shades.
With a skeptical husband at home, I tested the farmer’s theory and took a stock home to roast for dinner. Although my husband waited to see if I curled over and died before trying his own serving of purple cauliflower, the farmer was right. Purple cauliflower is just as tasty as it’s traditional cousin.
- 1 large head or 2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 tbs Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 lemons, juiced and zested
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower has browned, tossing partway through.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the fresh garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, parsley, and lemon zest.
- Spoon roasted cauliflower into the bowl with the spices, squeeze the lemon juice on top, and toss to coat. The heat of the cauliflower will cook the garlic.
- Serve immediately.