As declared by President Obama, March 31st is César Chávez Day in the United States. It is also an official state holiday in here in California (although the Cesar Chavez Parade and festivities will take place on April 21st in San Francisco). A tireless civil rights activist, Chavez, “a major historical icon for the Latino community” (WIKI) along with his wife Dolores Huerta, founded the United Farm Workers (UFW).
In his excellent article, Cesar Chavez Day Recalls 50 Years of Struggle, columnist and author Randy Shaw recalls, “Cesar Chavez dared to pursue a dream of organizing farm workers. He had no government or foundation funds, no wealthy benefactors, and no online funding operation – all he had was the force of his personality and he and his wife’s commitment to the struggle.” Cesar Chavez was presented, posthumously, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton and is, perhaps, best-known for leading the historic California grape pickers strike (which lasted five years) and the “NO GRAPES”/”UVAS NO” boycott of the 1980’s protesting the use of toxic pesticides on grapes, which sickened pickers.
Today, we associate pesticide-free produce with organic farming (although organic farming is so much more than just this), and so it seems only fitting that we remember Cesar Chavez by buying and eating only organic, at least for a day. This time of year, according to Om Organics, there are many great choices, including cauliflower. Below is a typical Mexican preparation:
Coliflor con Queso Envuelta en Huevo/Cheese-stuffed Caulifower in Egg Batter from Tres Señoritas Gourmet Mexican Catering
For the cauliflower in batter
- 1 large or 2 small heads organic cauliflower
- 4-5 eggs
- flour seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper
- Queso Oaxaca*, 1 lb. (or shredded mozzarella 1-1/12 cups)
- Vegetable oil
- Olive oil
For simmer broth
- 6 organic plum tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 organic Spanish white onion
- jalapeños or serrano chiles 2-3
- Mexican Oregano (or substitute Italian if unavailable)
* available at Casa Lucas on 24th and Alabama
Seperate the cauliflower into large florets, clean well and steam until color and texture begins to change; remove immediately so as not to over cook (you do want them to be soft but not mushy), run under cold water to bring cooking process to a halt and pat dry. Put a large sautée pan with about 3″ of cooking oil to heat on a high flame. You’ll want the oil nice and hot for frying. Seperate egges and beat whites until they form peaks, adding a little salt and pepper. Working with the cauliflower florets, look for crevices in which to insert the Queso Oaxaca or slit a larger floret into 2 pieces, sandwiching the cheese in the middle. You’ll want to use just a few “strings” of the Queso Oaxaca or a tablespoon or so of shredded mozzarella for each large floret. Gently squeezing the cauliflower and cheese together in your hand, dredge in the flour mixture, and then dip into the waiting egg whites, immediately drop into the hot oil, cooking 4-5 pieces at a time. Turn carefully to be sure batter is cooked on all sides. Remove to drain on a paper towel or brown paper bag.
Dry roast tomatoes on a comal, remove to blender, and puree. Heat a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil in a large pot, and add puree mixture and chicken broth to hot oil. Add a couple of serrano chiles (more if you like your comida piquoso (spicy food) or use jalepeños if you like a milder tomato broth), 1/2 onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of Mexican oregano. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes on a low flame allowing the flavor to develop. Bring to rapid boil. Add battered cauliflorets and continue cooking for about 3-5 minutes. Serve immediately.