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They’re everywhere. Large ones gracing  doorsteps; small ones decorating tables from now until Christmas. Even Charlie Brown paid them homage. Yes, it is time again for the great pumpkin invasion.

I agree that the large orange globes make nice porch decorations, but when the temperature drops, my thoughts are focused on something I can actually eat.

A trip to the New Eastern Market in Springettsbury Township will show the true stars of the fall season. Broccoli and cauliflower are now being harvested locally. Members of the Brassicaceae family, they thrive in the cool weather.

Along with broccoli, cauliflower is one of the two flowers that are commonly served as vegetables. The word “cauliflower” comes from Latin and means “cabbage flower.”

Perhaps because of its resemblance to a brain, Mark Twain remarked “a cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.”

 

Though we are most familiar with the alabaster head found in the supermarket, cauliflower comes in many different hues. It contains all the vitamins and antioxidant properties of its more-touted cousins, kale and broccoli. Compared to Brussels sprouts and cabbage, cauliflower has a mild flavor. It can serve as a blank canvas for many types of dishes.

The cauliflower curry recipe below is one example. There are many variations of this dish. This one is from Northern India and is unusual, as it contains no onions or garlic. For Brahmins, who are very strict vegetarians, these flavors are associated with the preparation of meat dishes and are avoided.

With its contrasting colors and bouquet of flavors, cauliflower curry will be welcomed by allium lovers and loathers alike. It is also a good choice for any vegan  or members of your family whose diets are gluten-free.

Served with basmati rice, this is a filling dish for anyone trying to take a break from meat.

Cauliflower Curry

1 small head cauliflower

2 medium potatoes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red pepper

1 10-ounce package frozen peas, defrosted

1 cup tomato puree

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Wash the cauliflower, and cut the florets into small pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. 

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. When hot, add the cumin seeds, and fry until they turn dark brown, about 20 seconds. Add the cumin powder, coriander, turmeric and red pepper and fry for a minute. 

Add the cauliflower and potatoes, and, stirring constantly, fry for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, stir and continue frying for about another 3 minutes. Add two cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes longer.

Serve sprinkled with the chopped coriander.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.

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