This year marks my first harvest of cauliflower. We have become fanatics for sautéed cauliflower.
One of these days we will have a real garden again, but for our cauliflower experiment we planted in a pot on the deck.
Cauliflower is quite easy to grow, it’s a cool weather vegetable, but ours grew on a full-sun deck just fine. Once the head begins to form it’s best to gather the surrounding leaves and tie them together at the top with some twine to protect the cauliflower (this also allows it to stay pure white). In the picture below I have just harvested the cauliflower. The leaves that were closest to the cauliflower were almost completely eaten through by a pest, whereas these lower leaves have just a few holes.
Why are there holes on cauliflower leaves?
We had some pesky cabbageworms that found a happy home at our place and ate huge holes in the cauliflower leaves. This doesn’t hurt the production of the cauliflower but it is frustrating.
Every other morning I would try to pick as many of the little green worms off the undersides of the leaves. They can be difficult to spot since they blend in with the leaf and can be so small. I picked off a few bigger worms but most were itty bitty.
They look like green inch worms.
Do yourself a favor and cover your cauliflower plant (and broccoli) with a floating row cover at planting. The cover is a light weight, thin blanket that allows the light and water through but keeps out flying pests. This will prevent moths from laying their eggs in the plant which hatch into cabbageworms.
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, mustard greens, cucumbers, can also be tasty treats for cabbageworms.
At harvest you will need to carefully chop homegrown cauliflower into smaller pieces so you can check the cracks and crevices for any stray green worms (or in the case of cauliflower grown where slugs are plentiful checks all those crevices for very tiny slugs). The critter on the knife below was hidden within the cauliflower.
My mother-in-law brought us a “slug-full” cauliflower from her garden, when I cut into it there was a huge slug inside and lots of tiny slugs throughout, so beware the home-grown cauliflower!!
This may seem like too much trouble….slugs and worms oh my! …but in order to feed our expanded family of home-for-the-summer college students we need a lot of cauliflower for one meal and it is pretty expensive these days.
For pest removal, it probably would have been a good idea to let the cauliflower soak in some salted water for a few hours before chopping!!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon capers
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet, add chopped shallot and saute til softened.
Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes, at this point add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and capers.
Continue to saute until cauliflower softens more and carmelizes.
Our family walks through the kitchen and sneaks bites from the pan while it is cooking, we are lucky to still have some left in the pan to serve with the meal.