Versatile Cauliflower

It’s raining this morning, which is a nice break from the dense fog we have had lately. It’s nice to be able to see across the street even if the rain will ultimately bring more foggy conditions, I’m enjoying it.

This morning at the Farmers’ Market I picked up a beautiful head of cauliflower. It’s what some would consider on the small size, but because I am the only eating it, it’s just the right size. I also bought rainbow chard, carrots, celery and some apples to make into sauce.

I really like doing a little research on what I find at the market. I love learning more about things that have been part of my life for decades and about new things that I have just discovered.

While I have eaten cauliflower my whole life I never once considered the visual similarity between it and broccoli until I read the sentence; “Cauliflower and broccoli are the same species and have very similar structures, though cauliflower replaces the green flower buds with white inflorescence meristem” (An inflorescence is a group of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches). I think this was so startling because I consider myself a very visual person and yet I hadn’t noticed something so obvious.  It was only when I allowed my curiosity to enter the process that I really saw the similarity. Now, I wonder what else is right in front of me that I’m not seeing?

Other interesting facts I found on my cauliflower quest were: its name is from the Italian cavolfiore, from cavolo cabbage and fiore flower and that it was introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century. In today’s world there are four major groups of cauliflower; Italian (this is the ancestral form from which the others were derived), Northwest European (developed in France in the 19th century), Northern European (developed in Germany in the 18th century), and Asian (developed in India during the 19th century).  It was also noted that it is available in various colors beside white, including; green, purple, brown and yellow. To be honest, I haven’t tried the other colors. I have seen them in pictures and at a few gourmet markets. I’ve only eaten the white variety since that is what’s has been available at my market. But, if they do become available I’d definitely give them a try, especially if I can buy a small head.

This wonderful winter vegetable is low in fat and  high in dietary fiber and like many winter fruits and vegetables it is  high in vitamin C.

Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled (I don’t boil any vegetable except potatoes, I prefer steaming), fried, steamed or eaten raw. I’ve also read that low carb dieters use cauliflower as a reasonable substitute for potatoes. Hum, guess you would have to cook it until pretty soft to get the texture right when it’s pureed so that might be when they boil it. I still think I prefer the steam method. As you can see I haven’t tried it as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce

roasted cauliflower with Parmesan

One of my childhood favorites is cauliflower that has been steamed till it’s just done then served with a simple cheese sauce. I have also tried it sliced, tossed with a good olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted until just browned then sprinkled with a nice Parmesan cheese. Another favorite is to slice the florets and steam them then toss with a pat of butter, salt and pepper.

Here’s a interesting way to fix cauliflower as a snack,  cauliflower popcorn. It’s an idea from Earth Eats by Annie Corrigan. They have all kinds of interesting articles on their site.

Another site with a yummy vegetarian version is Pinch My Salt, it’s steamed cauliflower with a curry butter and almonds. The recipe was adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

Cauliflower matches well with foods such as almonds and walnuts, bacon and ham, cheese, curry and hollandaise sauces, breadcrumbs, butter, lemon, mushrooms, herbs like chervil, chives, parsley and spices like nutmeg.

As you can see cauliflower is extremely versatile. No wonder it is used in cuisines throughout the world. If you haven’t given this highly nutritious, delicious vegetable a try you should. You just might grow to love it as much as I do.

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8 thoughts on “Versatile Cauliflower

  1. Hey Annie,
    Love your post. I have tried mashed cauliflower, but have forgotten about it. Now I will have to have this again. We are low carb dieters over here. I remember them being very yummy!Thanks. :) Cheryl

  2. This is inspirational. I’ve got ahead of organic cauliflower in the fridge, its snowing outside, great time to prepare a crucifer feast. Thanks for getting me going!

  3. One of my favorite ways to eat cauliflower is from an old cookbook, San Francisco a la Carte. Cook the florets in water with a roughly chopped onion until soft. Drain and whirl in a food processor. Add enough buttermilk to achieve a good “mashed potato” consistency and add butter to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put into oven or microwave-safe bowl to warm up.

  4. We roast ours – first I put a small amount of olive oil in a bowl, add pepper flakes – cumin – turmeric and a bit of salt – swish the cauliflower heads in this and put all on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes – Yummy

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