Cooking up innovative transformations
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Cauliflower is remarkably adaptable in the kitchen if you approach it with a sense of culinary adventure. Here are some amazing recipes.
There’s an old roast that goes something like, “You have a face like a flower—a cauliflower!” While it’s true that this bulbous veggie may not be the best-looking item in the produce aisle, cauliflower is remarkably adaptable in the kitchen if you approach it with a sense of culinary adventure.
You don’t have to be following a low-carb or Paleo diet to embrace the innovative ways that people are now using cauliflower. From “steaks” to pizza crust, cauliflower’s unique texture lets it stand in for plenty of other higher-calorie fare. With a mere 25 calories in each 1 cup (250 mL) serving, cauliflower has rightfully been dubbed “the skinny starch.”
As a member of the Brassica family along with broccoli and kale, cauliflower also delivers a wallop of nutrients and antioxidants responsible for its oft-touted health properties. A study in the journal Stroke found that for every 25 g increase in the daily intake of white vegetables and fruits (about 1/4 cup/60 mL cauliflower), the risk of suffering a stroke dropped by 9 percent.
So forget the basic steamed florets; here’s how to really tap into the true talent of ultra-versatile cauliflower.
On the bright side
Beyond the more traditional white variety, keep an eye out for orange or purple versions of cauliflower. Each provides different flavour nuances, as well as some nutritional perks. Orange cauliflower has a sweeter taste and significantly higher levels of beta carotene, a nutrient shown to help with heart health by lowering inflammation and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Fetching purple cauliflower is slightly nutty tasting and gets its hue from the disease-fighting antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in blueberries and red cabbage.
Cream of the crop
A great cauliflower recipe starts with a great product. Look for cauliflower heads that are uniform in colour with densely packed florets that are free from soft spots, brown spots, or other blemishes—signs of aging. Each head should feel heavy for its size with crisp, fresh leaves that are not wilted.
Once home, keep cauliflower in the crisper, stem side down to prevent moisture from collecting in the florets, which can accelerate spoilage. Chilled whole heads can stay fresh for up to 10 days. You can also cut cauliflower into ready-to-go florets and keep them in an airtight container for up to a week.