Cauliflower once had the reputation of being just another “white stuff” food: Boring and stodgy, and maybe not that nutritious. It was an infamous member of that uninspired steamed or boiled mélange commonly called “mixed vegetables,” and it was usually overcooked to boot.
But times have changed, and cauliflower is now rightly celebrated for its great looks and unique culinary qualities. It’s one of the richest, nuttiest tasting vegetables, perfect for comfort food preparations or as a partner to big, bold flavors like chiles, lemon, capers and curry. Plus it’s a very good source of vitamin C.
The best recipes for cauliflower highlight its naturally rich texture and nutty flavor, or blend it with the kind of big bold flavor this veggie loves to hang out with. A fabulous combination of both is this weeknight-friendly, healthful Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup. The cauliflower turns luxuriously smooth and silky, while spice and heat from curry powder give it intriguing flavor. Make up a pot a serve it with a simple salad and a flatbread like whole grain naan. Add a crisp white wine and you can toast to the start of soup season!
It’s available year-round, but cauliflower really comes into its own in the fall months when you’ll see crisp heads still swaddled in their dark-green leaves. Snap these up! They’re so wonderfully fresh and so naturally sweet you’ll want to snack on the florets raw.
Cauliflower in offbeat hues like purple, orange, yellow and lavender are sometimes available and can be fun to play with. The colors tend to fade with long exposure to heat so keep cooking times short for maximum impact.
Look out for miniature cauliflower; these tennis-ball size heads can be steamed or braised whole or halved for an adorable single serving.
Cauliflower is sweetest and crispest when very fresh. Store it in the coldest part of the fridge, loosely wrapped, for no more than a few days.
Ever cook a head of cauliflower whole? Try it! You can boil it covered in salted water in a large pot, or try roasting it, basted with butter or oil, in a 400-degree F oven. The head is done when a paring knife slides into the base with just a little resistance. Place the cooked head on a platter and slice it at the table for a dramatic presentation!
More Great Recipes
One of the all-time great ways to enjoy cauliflower is as a potato substitute in recipes like this Mashed Cauliflower. You can keep the dish lean, or stir in a few tablespoons butter or crème fraîche for a more decadent mash.
Roasting cauliflower brings out its wonderfully nuttiness and natural sweetness and preserves the vegetables distinctive shape. This terrific recipe for Spelt Pasta with Walnuts and Roasted Cauliflower makes the most of quick-roasted florets. And for an awesome side, try Roasted Cauliflower Steaks, featuring thick slices of the head.
Finally, for one of the best family-friendly cauliflower recipes, don’t miss these unique Cauliflower and Broccoli Tots, just about the most perfect side dish ever invented (and one that goes great with Sriracha!). You can even watch the how-to video.
Love cauliflower? Tell us how you prepare it.