Undeniably, vegetables have taken the limelight in our daily consumption of food, with kale being declared the vegetable-you-have-to-eat. Trends are changing, but it’s still all in the family as cauliflower this and that gets the current accolades.
Cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable, is a cole crop. Cole crops are plants belonging to the Brassica family; think broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. They grow best in cooler weather, leading people to believe that cole is a derivative of cold; however, the word is rooted in a Latin word for stem.
Along with its relatives, cauliflower is nutritious, readily available year round and lends itself well to a number of culinary applications. Look for creamy white, firm heads that are heavy for their size. The leaves that envelope the heads should be green and fresh. Some markets will carry purple and pale orange cauliflower which adds colorful interest on the plate. The different types are interchangeable in recipes. Note: when cooked, the purple variety becomes dull-hued.
Veritable cauliflower swimming in cheese sauce is adored for its decadent cheesiness, but the vegetable has many other personalities.
Ideas to try
- Chopped and added to a salad of garden vegetables tossed with authentic Ranch dressing.
- Left whole, brushed with olive oil and roasted until tender and golden brown, revealing cauliflower’s sweeter side.
- Break the head into florets, sauté until crisp-tender then mix with bits of crispy bacon and a vinaigrette heavy with coarse mustard.
For those cutting back on carbs or jumping on the Paleo movement, cauliflower rice is taking top billing at the table. While the nomenclature, “rice” lacks the grain-like, creaminess of certain rice dishes, it does carry assorted flavors well, especially when toasted up in a pan with a bit of olive oil and fresh herbs.
The method is fairly straightforward. Split the cauliflower apart and whirl in a food processor until it resembles rice kernels. Alternatively, a sharp chef’s knife will also get the job done.
Cauliflower is also a clever grain replacement in tabbouleh. This salad is strays from a traditional tabbouleh is a few ways, other than the lack of bulgur. Having been contrived when tomatoes were not in season, it copiously uses celery and green olives, as well as the traditional lemon juice, parsley and mint.
Cauliflower Tabbouleh with Green Olives
Recipe courtesy of Gourmand in the Kitchen
- 3 Tablespoons/45ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 Tablespoons/45ml extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 medium stalks of celery, finely sliced by hand or on a mandoline
- 1-2 green spring onions, finely chopped
- ¼ cup green olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 large bunch or two small bunches of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped with a sharp knife or mezzaluna
- 1 large bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped finely chopped with a sharp knife or mezzaluna
- ¼ cup/30g walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional) (toast if not following a raw diet for extra nutty flavor)
- Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl and set aside.
- Place the cauliflower florets into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (Don’t over-process, you want a fluffy texture with grain-sized pieces)
- Add the chopped cauliflower, celery, green onions and olives to the dressing and toss to combine.
- Add in the finely chopped herbs and toss again.
- Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve with chopped walnuts, over the top.