Chatelaine Kitchen

Cauliflower prices too high? Buy these 5 veggies instead

Once again, the drought in California is affecting our produce aisles. Try these vegetables to save on your grocery bill this winter.

Mixed cauliflower

Photo, Sian Richards.

The California drought, the harbinger of bad food news, has taken another victim in the grocery aisles. Over the past month, the price of cauliflower has been on a steady rise, selling for upwards of $8 a head (and that doesn’t count for those buying organic). Local availability in Canada lasts from June to November, leaving stores to source this cruciferous vegetable from warmer climes like California over winter. Enter the price hike.

While California is actually experiencing rainfall lately, El Niño — the weather system responsible for the tropical temperatures of late fall — is bringing a torrent of the wet stuff to the state, there’s no quick rebound to the ravages of a five-year drought. With this in mind (as well as our wallets), here are five other vegetables you can throw into your grocery basket if you plan to put your cauliflower recipes on ice for a while.

1. Cabbage.
When properly stored, green and red cabbage can last from 3 weeks to 2 months. Note: This timeline will vary with other types of cabbage, and once cut, be sure to carefully wrap your cabbage with plastic wrap before returning it to the fridge to preserve the lifespan.

Try it:
Vegetarian cabbage rolls
Penne pasta with cabbage and mushrooms

2. Broccoli.
The cousin to cauliflower, this green, nutrient-dense vegetable is a star ingredient in some of our favourite dishes. It will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked, depending on your mood. Did you know? You want to look for dark green, dense heads of broccoli. If there are any flowers present, the broccoli has begun to turn fibrous and woody.

Try it:
Sesame beef and broccoli beef vermicelli bowl
Chipotle roasted chicken and broccoli

Related: How to cook green vegetables and keep them green

3. Rutabaga.
A relative of the cabbage, this root-like vegetable has a deep and sweet flavour and can be enjoyed fresh (in salads or on crudites platters) or cooked. It keeps well in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks. Boiling this vegetable will result in a milder flavour, while roasting it will heighten the sweetness as the rutabaga juices caramelize. Note: When purchasing, look for medium-sized, unblemished roots. Also, as rutabaga is often coated with wax to lengthen its shelf life, be sure to peel it cleanly before cooking.

Try it:
Spiced smashed rutabaga
Bangers with rutabaga salad

4. Celeriac.
Also known as celery root, this root vegetable — while unwieldy-looking with its rough, bulbous skin — is actually very light, crisp and fresh. It’s perfect for anything from crudites platters to a mashed potato alternative. Watch how easy it is to prepare here.

Try it:
Cottage pie with celery root mash
Apple and celery root slaw

5. Winter squash.
This vegetable can keep all winter long (so if you bought one a few weeks ago and forgot about it, it’s perfectly fine to use tonight), and each variety provides a wealth of options in the kitchen, from creamy soups to roasted, caramelized chunks to a faux-noodle tetrazzini. Popular varieties are spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, kabocha squash and pumpkin.

Try it:
Creamy butternut tagliatelle
Farro risotto with squash and hazelnuts

Watch: The best way to cut butternut squash

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