Vegetable lovers are eager to try 'caulilini'

SALINAS, Calif. -- There's a new variety of cauliflower heading soon to the produce section in California. It has a proprietary name -- caulilini.

Those who have tried it said it doesn't taste at all like cauliflower. It comes from the same company that created broccolini a few years ago.

It has been under wraps for two years -- a new variety of cauliflower that looks different and to most, tastes sweet and not at all like cauliflower.

"It's an Asian variety that's sort of loose, a little off color, but what caught my interest was the green stem, and I found that by enhancing the greenness, I enhance sweetness," said Rick Harris, director of growing operations at Mann Packing in Salinas.

Harris said he started working with 12 varieties of seeds. A similar vegetable is available at farmer's markets and in Asian grocery stores, but the goal was to be able to cultivate a variety that can grow year-round in the temperate Salinas Valley, alongside lettuce, berries and other vegetables.

"Out of those 12, only three really worked," he said. "This particular variety works year-round here in Salinas, and the other two are only seasonal."

It's challenging to explain the taste of caulilini.

Chefs on the West Coast have been trying out the new veggie, and it's getting good reviews.

"Anything that's new in the culinary scene is always exciting for us as chefs because we get to work with something that's different out of the box that we've never had our hands on," said Dasalla.

Whether it's served raw, sauteed, roasted or stir-fried, caulilini seems adaptable.

"There are so many different ways to work with it," said Loree Dowse, director of creative marketing at Mann Packing. "Because chefs are already doing that, I think that consumers will catch on pretty quickly."
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