The Greek Kitchen Ecosystem - preparing Cualiflowre and Kumquats


Neni’s city residence just outside of Athens sports a kumquat tree, and so over time, she learned how to prepare them. Kumquats are in season right now: late winter into early spring. They are a kind of weird little fruit, a type of citrus of Asian origin. It is grown in the southern United States, notably Florida. It’s not part of my culinary vernacular at all, but some of the most famous kumquats come from Corfu, in Greece, so clearly it is part of Neni’s. And she does do wonderful things with it. Kumquat has a sweet rind and a sour fruit, and she uses that tart and sweet quality to brighten up all kinds of dishes. She also makes kumquat spoon fruit.

Cauliflower with Kumquats

Serves 4

cauliflowerkumquatsSince Neni’s son Petros has been in college, she said she and her husband Stathis eat meat less often. This vegetable dish, which is braised in oil, served with homemade bread, olives, cheese, and a dip like taramosalata, is a typical dinner for them. Neni says her late father would have put potatoes in this dish (I did, and Megan did for the photo: 6 halved tiny Yukon golds or butterballs, added at the same time as the cauliflower), but she doesn’t like braised potatoes.

¾ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium-sized cauliflower, with leaves
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons vinegar (nothing fancy: like distilled white)
6 ripe kumquats
2 carrots, cut into 3 inch long planks
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves
2 cups chopped tomatoes (avoid tomatoes canned in sauce)
1 cup loosely packed coarsely chopped flat-leafed parsley
¼ cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (actually, Neni used urfa pepper, from Turkey)

  • In a large Dutch oven heat ¼ cup of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot) over a medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, the turn down the heat to medium low and cook for another 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  • In the meantime, remove the leaves from the cauliflower and cut into bite sized pieces. Break off the flowerettes and slice the core into bite-sized pieces, too. Place the cauliflower in the water with the vinegar and soak while the onions are cooking.
  • Add the kumquats, carrots, and garlic to the onions and cook until the kumquats are fork tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the cauliflower, leaves and core and add to the pot. Add the tomatoes, parsley, the remaining ½ cup of olive oil, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over a medium low heat for 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature. The flavored oil in the pot is delicious, so bread for soaking it up is a must!


3 Comments on “Kumquats

  1. Hi Neni

    I have not used kumquats before and look forward to making this dish. Do the kumquats need any preparation other than washing them before adding them to the other ingredients?



    • Hi Cheryl: Eugenia here. To answer your question, you only have to wash kumquats and cut them up. Neni leaves them whole for her spoon fruit. I slice them thin horizontally for marmalade. Neni cuts them in half pole to pole for the savory recipes. The rinds are sweet, the interior bitter. Taste one raw (you can eat the whole thing) and you will see!

      • Thanks! The cauliflower is in the pot and smells great.


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