Produce report September 3: Fruit and vege buys of the week
Cauliflower is good buying, which is not something Kiwis have been able to say too often over the past year. And though the joys of cauliflower au gratin are hard to ignore, its inclusion in vegetarian curries a godsend and the carb-free appeal of cauliflower rice or pizza bases remains ongoing, there’s lots more to do with this good-guy brassica.
Because it contains lots of pectin in its cell walls it makes deliciously smooth, thick soups. And it will soon be time to throw some of those florets on to the barbecue. To do this, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage A-Z advises removing the leaves and cutting the head in half before cutting each half into three wedges, making sure they are held together by a decent amount of stalk. “Dress with a little olive oil, some salt, pepper, a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a few thyme leaves and then grill on the barbecue or roast in a hot oven until just tender and turning golden. Finish with more oil, some chopped raw garlic, lemon juice and plenty of chopped parsley and mint.” Or try baking your cauli in Asian flavours with vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar and sriracha emulsion. And try layering its flavour. For a flash example, see Simon Gault’s recipe for roasted cauliflower on a creamy cauliflower puree, the dish on the menu at his Giraffe restaurant.
Cauliflower has been around a long time: for more than 2000 years, in fact. Native to the Mediterranean, it has been part of the European diet for about 500 years. When buying, look for tight white heads hugged with fresh-looking leaves. The curds (the white bit) should be firm with no parts breaking away. Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C (one serve provides nearly all of our daily requirement) and a source of folate. As a member of the brassica family, it contains phytonutrients and is believed to help protect against cancer. New World FRESH EXPERT Phil Lemon says in 2016 New Zealand produced more than 48,000 tonnes of broccoli and cauliflower — which is only going up as their proven health benefits become more widely known. When it is good buying, as it is this week, he advises lightly blanching the florets then freezing them for use when supply gets a bit tight.
Other good vegetable buys include local eggplants, Australian green beans and broccoli. Cabbages remain pricey. One of the last citrus stars of the year, the tangelo, is still a few weeks away but you may find an early variety of this ultra-juicy grapefruit and tangerine hybrid, in limited supply in New World stores.
Lemons and navel oranges are good buying (good for zesty citrus custards below) as are green kiwifruit. Look out for trays of imported pomegranate arils to add a Middle Eastern freshness to salads and tagines.