I Am Curious (Yellow Cauliflower)

I’ve been seeing yellow cauliflower at the farmer’s market for years now, but I hadn’t used it so much. I started reading about it recently, and apparently the different colors of cauliflower have different nutrient levels. Yellow cauliflower, for example, is way higher in Vitamin A than normal cauliflower (cauliflower is already naturally high in Vitamin C). I also read that it had a slightly sweeter flavor. I bought a couple of heads of the yellow cauliflower and proceeded to cook with them, with varying results. I don’t know if it really has a sweeter flavor, but yellow cauliflower is certainly delicious.

First up I did a pretty straightforward “smashed” cauliflower. I cooked them in salted boiling water until tender, and then drained them and put them back on the heat. I started mashing them up, adding salt, pepper, butter, and a little fontina cheese. This was really excellent — the milky flavor of the cheese blended well with the cauliflower’s flavor.

Next I made a pasta dish. I had intended this to be Italian-influenced, but then I changed my mind as I started cooking. I started by sweating some onions in olive oil, then added chunks of the yellow cauliflower. Then I added some cumin and coriander powder, and when this had cooked for a little bit I added the juice of a lemon and turned down the heat. I know from experience that cumin matched well with cauliflower, and this was no exception. It was kind of an Indian-influenced pasta, which may sound like a strange combination but was really good.

The only dish I made that wasn’t great was this one, made from a Lidia Bastianich recipe. She even recommended using yellow cauliflower for this, and it looked so simple. Basically you cook the cauliflower in with the pasta, and meanwhile you brown some breadcrumbs with garlic and pepper flakes in olive oil. Then you mix them all together. Although I seasoned the crumbs and the pasta liberally, the whole thing seemed to be lacking in flavor. I tried adding lemon zest, just to perk it up, but it didn’t do much for the flavor. Lidia said specifically that it didn’t need cheese, but I decided to try it anyway and grated some pecorino into it as well. All of this helped, but overall the dish was just so-so.

I may have OD’ed a bit on yellow cauliflower, but at least I satiated my curiosity. Yellow cauliflower is delicious, but so is regular cauliflower. I suppose the added nutrients are enough to make it worth buying, along with the striking color. If you come across yellow cauliflower, I suggest you give it a try.