Until the 1970s, practically every vegetable-growing family in Moncalieri, at the base of the hills south of Turin, cultivated the local cauliflower cultivar. The brassica was particularly appreciated and sought-after at local markets for its excellent sensory qualities, but in subsequent decades it almost completely disappeared.
The central part of the cauliflower resembles romanesco broccoli, with many spiraling florets wrapped in pale-green leaves. The florets are ivory in color, tending towards yellow, unlike the classic white “snowball” cauliflowers found in supermarkets or the vivid bright-green romanescos.
This ecotype has French origins, and was probably introduced to Italy when the Savoys settled in Piedmont, bringing their royal gardeners with them. Over time the cauliflower’s cultivation became well-established, thanks to favorable geographical conditions, like sandy soils that allow good water circulation and a harsh climate, which is well tolerated thanks to the protection provided by the outer leaves.
The Moncalieri cauliflower can be served in many different ways—fried, boiled or with bagna cauda (a typical dip made from anchovies, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil). The flavorful florets have a compact, crisp texture, even after cooking, and compared to ordinary cauliflowers the Moncalieri variety has a more delicate fragrance and is easier to digest. The cauliflower is also delicious raw in salads, tossed with Parmesan, oil, salt and pepper. The outer leaves are also very good to eat, both raw and cooked.
The Moncalieri cauliflower harvest starts in early October and continues throughout the winter.
At the beginning of the 2000s, this variety was included in the Paniere dei Prodotti Tipici della Provincia di Torino (the basket of typical products from Turin Province) and on the list of Traditional Agricultural Products (PAT), and its cultivation has been partially revived. However, even today, the survival of this variety rests in the hands of a few farmers who safeguard the seeds.
The Presidium unites a groups of small-scale growers who cultivate the Moncalieri cauliflower following organic principles. Slow Food’s objective is to save the variety by involving new growers and promoting the cauliflower and raising its profile among consumers and chefs.
Fields at the base of the hills south of Turin, Piedmont region
Presidium supported by
Comune della Città di Moncalieri
di Carlo Giacomasso
Strada Revigliasco, 58
Tel. +39 340 7878254
Via Madonna di Celle, 14 bis
Tel. +39 339 3288559
Vita di Campo
di Enea Garofalo e Alice Casati
Via Chieri, 63
Tel. +39 349 3767635
Tel. +39 340 7878254
Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Tel. +39 348 6944465