January’s Trophy Vegetable: Cauliflower

Cauliflower is rich in cancer-fighting nutrients, with the colored varieties featuring especially high amounts of antioxidants.

Devoted gardeners and foodies know its cauliflower season. Many people may not be aware that cauliflower thrives in extended cool weather and you can harvest a head even in January with planning, diligence and the use of frost blankets. When you finally pull back the huge blue-green leaves to reveal snowy white buds, you feel the thrill of bagging a trophy.

Not a gardener?  Pick up your cauliflower from a local grocery store.  Not only are these white mounds delicious, but they are loaded with nutrients, including glucosinolates, which are thought to inhibit the growth of cancer. Look for the colorful varieties such as orange, green and purple; they will have an even higher antioxidant value than white cauliflower, writes Jo Robinson in “Eating on the Wild Side.”

Pat Wetzel of The Anti-Cancer Club features tasty cauliflower options on her Nutritional Boot Camp blog. To fight cancer while enjoying fine cuisine, she cooks and mashes it for “rice,” roasts it with garlic and makes it into curries.

The October/November 2013 issue of Organic Gardening features a classic Indian dish that make cauliflower pop with color and spice:

Cauliflower with Peas

  • 2 tablespoons canola oilCauliflower and peas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the cumin seeds. Sauté for 30 seconds or so, until the seeds begin to sizzle.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic and shallots. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the shallots soften and begin to change color.
  3. Add the cauliflower, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is brown and caramelized – about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and tomatoes. Stir in the turmeric, black pepper, coriander, cayenne (if using) and salt to taste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the spices marry with cauliflower.
  5. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Makes 4 servings