Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Colors of Fall

When we had some friends over for our first-day-of-fall feast, our pal Sonny arrived bearing gifts: a couple of neato oblong serving platters (watch for them soon) and a fresh head of orange cauliflower, also known as cheddar cauliflower.

I had never had such cauliflower before, so I was eager to check it out. Apparently it contains many times more beta-carotene than its snowy white counterpart, and I'm all for that.

I figured I'd try to incorporate the stuff into a main course rather than serve it as a side dish, so pasta seemed like a natural vehicle. I followed most of my usual steps for an oil-based sauce: First I crisped up pancetta in a little olive oil and then drained it. Then I sautéed garlic, chilies, and herbs in the leftover fat, added the cauliflower with some wine and water, and let it all cook through, tossing in the cooked pancetta near the end.

The orange -- now yellow -- cauliflower tasted pretty much like white cauliflower, but Margy and I were enchanted by the color. And then there's the beta-carotene, of course. I don't want to say I'm going to bypass white cauliflower from now on (I'd like to think I'm more loyal than that), but look out -- there's a flashier crucifer in town.

Next up: purple.

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