Cauliflower is cool and these five recipes really rock

It’s been long avoided due to a previously drab reputation, and often ignored in favour of brighter vegetables, but no more.

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Cauliflower hasn’t had much luck with positive positioning or appealing to the eater. Much of which can be attributed to the lacklustre cooking and serving methods it has been subjected to over the years…

First came the kitsch trend of making it ‘cheesy’. But note, not with real cheese but an odd impostor taken from a jar and one with a strong resemblance to children’s glue. And then there was the phase where the florets were used in jellies because ‘they looked pretty’… Not to mention the time it went through serving as a centrepiece for hotdogs crumbed in cornflakes in the 70s. Yep. You really can’t help but feel a little sorry for cauliflower.

But really we should all be celebrating cauliflower. As a member of the brassica family this white vegetable is packed with indoles – the potent compounds that fight cancer’s development, and it also contains sulforaphane which after consumption enters the blood stream and turbo charges the body’s antioxidant defence system – all undeniably good things.

And the palate based benefits are strong too. Cauliflower has a neutral taste and ‘sponge like’ texture so can absorb countless flavour combinations and cooking methods as you’ll find listed below. And yes. As you’ll see some do involve cheese – because when done in a respectful manner it really is a cracking combination. Hot dogs and jelly however? Not so much…

ROAST

Turn the oven to 190 degrees. In a bowl toss together one cauliflower that’s been chopped into small florets and dress it with olive oil, a pinch of nutmeg and ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper before scattering on a lined baking tray and baking for 30-40 minutes until golden.

MASH

A great option for those who really have a hankering for mashed potatoes but need a little time out. Boil two peeled potatoes in salted water until they’re cooked through and at the same time microwave a whole cauliflower that’s been chopped into small florets until soft. Cool the potatoes slightly before chopping and placing in a saucepan with the cauliflower, a little butter and salt. Mash together.

SOUP

Cauliflower lends itself so well to a soupy cause. Heat a little oil and butter in the pan, add one chopped onion, garlic clove and a peeled and diced potato. If you’ve got it, some celeriac can go in too. Cook until the onions are transparent (6ish minutes) before adding the small florets of one small cauliflower. Add around 6 cups of stock (chicken or vegetarian) and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. All the veg should be soft. Let it cool before blending, adding ½ cup of cream and a tablespoon of butter. Top with roasted walnuts, and maybe cheesy toasts. Try this recipe from Joy The Baker for Roasted Cauliflower and Cumin Soup…

RICE

Not the paleo type that’s trending… it’s more like a pilaf and delicious with curries. In a non-stick and heavy based saucepan, and over low to medium heat, sweat together one sliced onion in coconut oil with a grated garlic clove. Add 1.5 cups of you choice of rice, a pinch of salt, teaspoon of cumin seeds, a star anise clove and bay leaf.  Stir to combine and coat with all with the oil and onions. Add in ½ head of cauliflower that’s been chopped into 1cm-sized pieces. Add the amount of water suggested on the packet of your rice, a dollop of butter, place the lid on, and cook away. It’s ready when the rice is cooked and the liquid gone. Leave to stand a little and fluff.

RAW

Eating cauliflower raw is underrated, but it holds a slightly sweet nutty note that makes it perfect for salads. An easy one sees a cauliflower finely but rustically chopped up and tossed together with a bunch each of roughly sliced mint and flat leaf parsley (no stems). Then add a handful each of currants and toasted pine nuts, before seasoning and dressing with olive oil and lemon.

Image credits: cauliflower (Donna Hay Magazine), cauliflower and spices (Joy The Baker), retro cauliflower food fails (pinterest and The American Table)

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