Spotlight on Cauliflower
With recipes in the links below!
A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, this often overlooked vegetable not only offers culinary versatility, but is also a nutritional powerhouse. Though we mostly see white varieties (which throws the “don’t eat white food” rule out the window), they also come in orange (higher in vitamin A), purple (offers anthocyanin, one of the antioxidants found in red wine) and green varieties. Each contains different types of antioxidant compounds or nutrients that account for color differences.
Cruciferous veggies (of which broccoli, kale, cabbage, collard greens, among others are a member of this broad class) most famously contain glucosinolates, a class of compounds most strongly associated with anticancer activity. Some studies show evidence for an increase in glucosinolate compounds in organic versions of cruciferous vegetables. Steaming will also increase the amount of these compounds (by increasing their availability) versus consuming them in their raw state. Steaming, stir-frying and microwaving are the best way to preserve these compounds, while boiling or freezing reduces them. Cauliflower is also a good vitamin C source.
According to fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com, you should select cauliflower with “compact, creamy white curds and bright green, firmly attached leaves. Avoid brown spots or loose sections that are spread out.” Refrigerate up to 5 days in a plastic bag. It is available from August through October locally, but is usually found year round at your local grocery store, though colored varieties may differ in availability.
Cauliflower is great as a side dish or sub for high carb options if you need to reduce your carbohydrate load. Here are some ideas to get you started!
- Cauliflower “Rice”: this is a very simple recipe, which can be varied base on your tastes with additions of onions, garlic and other spices using the skillet method. Also note that the recipe calls for freezing portions, which we learned above will reduce amounts of glucosinolate (think “cancer-fighting” properties).
- Pizza crust: again, there are a multitude of recipes out there for this. This one uses dairy and eggs, but I’ve seen vegan recipes as well. Top with lots of veggies and some protein and serve with a salad for a balanced meal.
- Mashed: this is also a bare bones recipe. Add additions as you would to mashed potatoes, such as roasted garlic. Combining the cauliflower with turnips and even using half potatoes alters the flavor profile.
- Tortillas: as mentioned in my previous post.
- Simply steamed: topped with butter or olive oil and salt.
- Roasted: most simply, chop cauliflower into bite size pieces. Place in large bowl with olive oil (enough to coat), salt, pepper and minced garlic and toss with hands. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 375° F for 15-20 minutes or until desired doneness.
- Cauliflower also makes for a nourishing creamy soup.
- Check out this page for some other creative ideas you can use cauliflower.
What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower?
Laura Kraus MS, RDN