The best part of working at Healthy Bites in Philadelphia was my exposure to heirloom foods. Healthy Bites was a pickup site for a CSA program, which is a Community Supported Agriculture program for those of you who have never heard of the term. In short, people who sign up for a CSA pay up front for a share in a farm’s production. The farm receives the money before the season starts, which often helps them stay in business if they are a small farm. In exchange for supporting the farm, each person receives a big and beautiful box full of seasonal fruits and vegetables that the farm has produced. You get one box per week for as many as 7 months. They are seriously great programs for people who want to support local agriculture.
The best part about supporting these small farms is that they often grow heirloom fruits and vegetables, which you rarely see in a grocery store. In fact, we had a woman come in three days after receiving her basket and told us that she’d been using a kale variety as a fan because she had no idea how to cook it! It was a great lesson for all of us about how to cook with unfamiliar foods. In the few months I worked at Healthy Bites I was exposed to romesco cauliflower, zebra tomatoes, and dozens of heirloom potatoes. This recipe is inspired by the heirloom cauliflower that is coming into season. Try to find an unusual variety, such as the purple cauliflower in the picture when you make it. The cauliflower is roasted with broccoli and tossed with a quick sauce made from broccoli stems. Bet you didn’t think you’d ever find those useful!
Makes: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes
1 head broccoli
1 head purple cauliflower
1 head traditional cauliflower
2 tbs pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Use a good knife to trim the broccoli and cauliflower florets from the stem. The best way to do this is to turn the vegetable upside down with the stem sticking up. Cut the branches in circles around the stem until all of the florets have fallen off. Set 2-3 large broccoli florets and the broccoli stem to the side. You want them to be bite-sized, and may need to cut some in half. Set the florets on a cookie sheet in one, even layer. Drizzle with a light bit of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- While the vegetables are baking, trim the stem of the broccoli so that there are no branches. Cut the bottom 1/2 inch off of the stem off as well. Roughly chop the stem and place in a bowl with the 2-3 florets.
- Bring about 2 cups of water to a boil. Pour over the stem and florets and soften for about 3 minutes. Drain the water and pat dry.
- Combine the stems and florets, garlic, and pine nuts in a small blender. Pulse until the ingredients are broken down. Add the Parmesan cheese. While the blender is running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. You may need a little more oil, or won’t need the full 1/3 cup, depending on how large the stem was. You want the sauce to be thick and not runny so that it just sticks to the vegetables and doesn’t make a mess. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven after 30 minutes or when they are tender. Pour into a bowl and toss with the broccoli sauce so that everything is lightly coated. Serve hot.