Seared Purple Cauliflower “Steaks” with pea purée and rainbow chard

seared-purple-cauliflower-steaks-pea-puree-rainbow-chard
Day 3 in the paleoveganista mono-diet challenge. At the grocery store I spotted purple cauliflower and organic rainbow chard. The ease of availability [of everything one could ever want from the vegetable kingdom] is a privilege I formerly took for granted when I worked at Whole Foods Market and saw things like purple cauliflower, orange cauliflower, and romenesco (my favorite vegetable, hence the Paleoveganista logo) multiple times during every shift. It wasn’t until I lived in places where the only available cruciferous vegetables took the form of anemic broccoli or canned collard greens that I began to understand how lucky I once was.

Despite my enthusiasm for the vibrant color of the purple cauliflower in itself, I began to research it after moving back to the states to determine how its nutritional value compares with standard *white* cauliflower.

As it turns out, purple cauliflower contains anthocyanins, a subtype of flavinoid compound that studies show may be very useful in regulating blood sugar levels, improving brain function, and promoting weight control. It makes sense that purple cauliflower would be a step up from white cauliflower in terms of nutritional benefits. I can’t be bothered by over-analyzing the vitamin content of the vegetables I eat, however. The one golden rule I keep in mind is: the more color it has, the higher the quality+quantity of absorbable nutrients it contains.

**Update: Shortly after writing this post I learned that multicolored (purple, orange) cauliflower resulted from breeding experiments conducted at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. in which scientists effectively bred caronetene into the cauliflower plant, turning it orange and 100 times richer in Vitamin A than white cauliflower. Apparently Dr. Micahel Dickenson achieved this by accident. Interestingly, the orange shade of the mutant cauliflower was derived from a process similar to that by which humans convert vitamin A (manifesting in darker skin or a “tan”). According to the documentation I read, Dr. Dickenson’s mutant orange cauliflower led to experimentation resulting in subsequent strains with pigments manifesting in different colors i.e. purple. By the year 2003, orange and purple cauliflower became available commercially. 11+ years later: nearly everyone in the states has seen a colorful cauliflower, so the novelty might have dissipated but demand is as high as ever.**

Unlike yesterday’s recipe and the two others before it, this one is more entree-like and the vibrant seared cauliflower looks gorgeous atop the pea puree alongside the rainbow chard. Unfortunately the pictures I took of this dish went missing, so I’ll have to add them later when I find them or try this again at a later date. I want to stay consistent in posting my recipes/meals plan during this mono-diet experiment, so I’ll post this now despite the lack of photographic representation.seared-purple-cauliflower-steaks-paleo

Seared Purple Cauliflower “Steaks” with pea purée and rainbow chard

Ingredients

1 head purple cauliflower
1 x 16oz bag organic frozen peas (I wish I’d had the time to find them fresh and shell them myself, but unfortunately my day job wouldn’t permit it).
1 bunch rainbow chard
2-4 garlic cloves (2 if you tolerate garlic; 3 if you like it, 4 if you love it)
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Remove the leaves and the tough core from the cauliflower, and transfer to a bowl filled with warm water to loosen any dirt or debris. Yes, the leaves and core are part of this recipe. I’ll explain later.

Pre-heat oven to 450* F

Remove skins from the garlic cloves in 20 seconds or less using back of a knife to press each clove. This might be very common knowledge, but since I didn’t learn it until 19 I thought I’d mention it just in case.

If using a food processor or blender, add the peeled garlic cloves to the pitcher along with the non-dairy milk, lime juice, salt, and pepper. *Note: I personally can’t stand the taste of over-salted foods, so I add salt in increments of a “pinch” (about 1/16 teaspoon). Blend until a smooth liquid is achieved. Transfer to a container of some sort, and set aside.

In the absence of a food processor or blender: mince the garlic cloves as finely as possible. Then mix with the non-dairy milk and salt/pepper, using a whisk or a fork.

*Note: Both methods yield similar results; the main difference is that in the latter (manual) method the garlic will not pulverize completely.

Use a colander/strainer to drain the water from the soaking cauliflower leaves and stem/core. Check for any residual dirt, and rinse until clean. Slice thinly.

In a medium soup pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the cauliflower leaves and stem/core pieces. Boil for 5 minutes before adding the 2 cups frozen or fresh green peas.

Cover and let simmer on medium for 10 minutes.

As the cauliflower trimmings and green peas simmer, transfer the whole cauliflower head to a shallow oven pan and coat with garlic-lemon-nondairy-milk-blend using a basting brush if you have one. Otherwise. wing it by rotating the caulflower and gently pouring on the sauce to coat each side.

Oven temp should have reached 450* F by now. Place cauliflower in the oven. While it cooks, remove the green pea and cauliflower leaf blend from heat. Drain all liquid into a jar or other container. Set aside. After it cools for a few moments, transfer the pea-cauliflower leaf blend to the blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. It should resemble a very thick potato soup but not quite as thick as mashed potatoes.

Check the cauliflower. At this point it should need about 10 more minutes to fully “sear”. At this point the outer edges should look golden.

Pour the reserved [pea and cauliflower leaf] liquid into a saucepan. Meanwhile, chop the rainbow chard into bite-sized pieces. Sautee the chard in the vegetable water until tender. By this point, the cauliflower should be ready. It should look golden brown at the top but still distinctively purple throughout. Turn off oven and let cauliflower cool before creating the “steaks”.

Slice into the seared cauliflower to create pieces of approximately 1cm thickness. Plate atop a generous smear of pea puree and finish with a heaping spoonful of rainbow chard next to it. It looks really gorgeous. Let’s hope I find those pictures.

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