It’s lyrical to say—it sort of rolls off the tongue—and even more lyrical to eat, this new darling of the brassica family is one of the most exciting new vegetables to hit the market in a while.
So what is it?
Grown by Mann’s, here’s how they describe it: “Caulilini™ SweetStem™ Cauliflower is the newest member of the brassica family, and with its long edible stems and blonde, open florets it could be one of the most striking. Sweetly succulent in flavor, its “perfectly imperfect” shape adds both flavor and texture to side dishes, crudité platters, or entrée builds.”
I love playing with fun new items in the kitchen!
I’ve only come across something somewhat like it recently at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market while touring with Karen Beverlin, Vice President Specialty Sales at The Produce Hunter, and thought it was interesting. But having not tried it, I mistakenly moved on. She says chefs love it.
Mann’s was kind enough to provide samples so I took some home to play with. I found that it cooked brilliantly and was delicious with very little effort needed. I am a roaster by nature—if you can roast it, it is going in the oven—and found that the delicate little flowery florets became magically crispy in the oven.
They almost looked like I fried them.
I like a hot oven, so in only a matter of minutes the flowery florets were crispy brown and cooked.
I discovered Caulilini to be a sweeter version of cauliflower with graceful florets that are still cauliflower-curdy, but light and flowery too. Bonus: I noted that it had a lower sulphur taste and aroma you tend to get from regular cauliflower.
Caulilini can be used on pretty much everyone’s menus—from large volume operations to small.
It’s low prep, the florets are for the most part ready to go right out of the case. If you are a banquet chef, this is a perfect high volume, low prep, roast it in the oven, easy plate up side.
With all of the dietary restrictions you come across that exclude a wide variety of items: is it low carb? is it plant-based? is it vegan? is it gluten free?…along comes a vegetable that covers all bases. If you had a Venn diagram of dietary restrictions, this slides right into the sweet spot.
And for restaurant chefs, this is also a great item. Again, cauliflower fits right into that sweet spot of having a semi-neutral flavor profile, and since Caulilini is even milder and sweeter, it takes on the flavor of whatever you put on it. You can coat the florets with a little yogurt, mayo, olive oil, or butter, herbs, breadcrumbs—anything you can think of really—and roast it like you roast a whole head of cauliflower. Or you can tempura fry it or saute it. Whatever you can do with cauliflower, you can take it up a notch with Caulilini.
I also sliced the Caulilini and sautéed it with onions. Again, it cooked quickly and the little floret edges browned nicely while the rest of the Caulilini remained al dente.
Chef Dan tried some samples too, he grilled it and flash fried it with resounding success. Overall, it was a huge hit here with everyone that tried it.
Chef Dan talks about Caulilini in our latest Fresh Things video.
For more information about Caulilini Sweet Stem Cauliflower, check out Mann’s Foodservice website. They have recipes to get you started, or do like we did over here, wing it and become impressed with the result.
While this is a brand new item and just getting started with volume production, their website says it is available year round.
Are you passionate about produce? Check out a few of our resources:
Learn the basics with: Produce 101
Watch our videos: Fresh Things
Our weekly Market Report: FreshPress
What’s in season: Availability Guide
Note: roasted Caulilini photo credit Britni Webster.
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