It’s a good source of Vitamins C, K and B6 and folate. Cauliflower is also a high-quality protein. Studies have shown eating cauliflower can result in a lower risk of stroke.
ON THE LIST of vegetables that get too little love, cauliflower is right up there with turnips and rutabaga. Have you noticed those ivory florets are always the last bites left on the crudité tray? Now that beets and Brussels sprouts are ubiquitous, and kale has had its moment, surely it’s cauliflower’s turn in the limelight.
For starters, those pale, lumpy heads are healthier than they look. A good source of Vitamins C, K and B6 and folate, cauliflower is also a high-quality protein. Studies have shown eating cauliflower can result in a lower risk of stroke, and it contains glucosinolates that might help reduce the harmful estrogens behind certain breast cancers.
Cauliflower increasingly can be found in shades other than white. Look for eye-catching orange, green and purple varieties, as well as spiky, spiraled, pale green Romanesco, which resembles broccoli but is actually a type of cauliflower.
Whatever its hue, cauliflower offers plenty of scope for the imagination. Sprinkle grated cheddar or Parmigiano-Reggiano on steamed florets and pop them under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. Dress warm florets with olive oil, lemon juice and its zest, Dijon mustard, crushed fresh garlic, and marjoram, plus some chopped cured black olives, capers, or mashed anchovy.
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Cauliflower is starchy. You can mash or purée it like potatoes, but it has fewer carbs and calories. Shredded or finely chopped cauliflower can be simmered in water or stock and prepared as you would rice or couscous.
As with many cruciferous vegetables, roasting or sautéing cauliflower deepens its flavor. Instead of florets, try cutting the whole head into half-inch thick slices, as chef Walter Edward does at Tallulah’s on Capitol Hill for Caramelized Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Raisins, one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
Tallulah’s Caramelized Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
6 green cardamom pods
¼ cup golden raisins
½ cup pine nuts
1 head cauliflower (2½ to 3 pounds)
3 tablespoons Canola or other neutral vegetable oil (or more, enough to cover the bottom of your pan)
1 shallot, finely diced (about ½ cup)
½ bunch parsley, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
½ bunch chives, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt to taste
1. Bring water, sugar and cardamom pods to a boil and pour syrup over raisins, allow to macerate for at least 2 hours. Strain and reserve raisins.
2. Toast pine nuts for 5 to 7 minutes in a 375-degree oven and reserve.
3. Trim the leaves off the cauliflower and cut it in half. Cut each half in ½-inch thick slices. The stem should keep most slices intact. Don’t worry if some break apart. Use only pieces with flat sides so they brown evenly.
4. In a large saute pan heat the oil over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add cauliflower carefully, piece by piece, making sure every piece lays flat and touches the surface of the pan. Cook in batches if necessary. Sear each slice on one side only, until it is a deep, dark, even brown (about 7 to 8 minutes).
5. Once all the slices are caramelized, lower the heat to medium. (If you cooked in batches, return all the cauliflower to the pan.) If the pan seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water, then add shallot. Cook until they become fragrant, gently turning the cauliflower. Add raisins, pine nuts, parsley, chives and lemon juice. Stir together until combined. Season with salt. Serve hot.
— by chef Walter Edward