Oh Boy, have I got a pin-worthy, insta-ready veg for you.
It’s that time of the month where I’m offering a delicious life hack, shining the spotlight on my favourite ingredient- showcasing its history, nutritional benefits and including a scrumptious recipe for you to give a go.
Secretly, I’m hoping to entice you to use more of my favourite ingredient of the month, each week. That’s the plan.
What do you think of when you see snow-capped trees in winter? Being a foodie means I immediately think of my “IT GIRL” vegetable, cauliflower, with its fluffy brain-like shrubs of sculptured florets clinging together, just begging to be cut down, pulled apart and caramelised, baked and used as a sponge to soak up juices, aromatic flavours and beckoning spices.
Whether used as a stand-alone ingredient, riced, roasted or steamed, added to curries, soups, frittatas, muffins, burgers, patties, or used as a bulkening ingredient in desserts, this humble, fibre-rich crown of curds and cruciferous-ness is comfort food heaven.
Move over Kim Kardashian, even cauliflower pizza crusts have now BROKEN the internet. #TeamCauliflower
Speaking of desserts, I’m adding a nutritional bonus to treat time and sharing my call me crazy Cauliflower and Raspberry Cheesecake recipe from Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian. Scroll down for more.
The oldest record of using cauliflower as a food dates all the way back to the 6th century BC. However, back then and for many centuries following, cauliflower was more so revered in the garden, holding an honourable place in many elegant estates throughout Europe. It wasn’t until the times of Louis XIV in the late 1600’s when it began appearing on grand table feasts due to Louis’ apparent appreciation of a floret or two.
Its identity is still emerging with scientists now favouring the term “brassica” rather than “cruciferous” as a classification. In Latin, the word brassica simply translates to cabbage but sounds much more exotic. I’m sticking to cruciferous as I’ve only just managed to figure out how to pronounce it.
Cauliflower is a veg that’s never unavailable, with varieties planted throughout the warmer months to ensure a year-round supply. In Australia, cauliflower is best in late summer and early autumn, making now the perfect time to start appreciating and using it in your recipes. It’s also abundant in UK just in time for springtime and makes its full Broadway appearance in summertime in the US.
Cauliflower is a flower that has not yet fully developed. This dates back many years when cauliflower was appreciated amongst horticulturalists, rather than fashionable foodies.
This seasoned classic is an amazing source of Vitamins C and K- making it a great anti-inflammatory and flu-fighting friend. It’s been found to reduce the production of lipids that increase heart disease when they are in high concentration within the blood.
Raw cauliflower is twenty five times higher in Vitamin A than when cooked so try cutting it small and adding to salads raw or serve on a platter with homemade dips.
Cauliflowers are also a very fibrous vegetable, helping to increase satiety and add roughage. Unlike other cruciferous vegetables much of the nutrition is stored in the florets or curds.
What to look for:
When purchasing cauliflower it’s important to look for vibrancy in colour. Interestingly, it comes in a variety of colours, including white, orange, lime green and purple.
Start by feeling the cauliflowers weight, it should be dense and fairly heavy. Another key indicator of freshness is the emerald green leaves that surround the cauliflower heads. Touch these and look for crisp leaves that are not wilted and are able to hold their shape.
Despite their impenetrable appearance, breaking a cauliflower down is not hard.
Remove all excess green leaves surrounding the heads. Once this is done, start from the top of the cauliflower and work down. Cut into smaller chunks by cutting the cauliflower into quarters.
The cauliflower can then be chopped into your required sizes. If you’re making a recipe which requires small, delicate bite size pieces, you can use your hands to break off the fluffier parts of the cauliflower or use a knife and run it along the stem, this will release each cauliflower floret.
Wash the florets once you have cut them. A medium cauliflower breaks down into 3-4 cups worth of florets, which is adequate for a side dish serving 4 people.
Cauliflower is amazingly versatile and can be cooked, baked, steamed, fried, grated, dehydrated and pickled.
Mashing cauliflower brings out its goodness and creaminess, add nutritional yeast for an easy cheesy texture and taste when making a Cheesy Mash.
A delicious soup to try is my Curried Cauliflower Soup a warming soup with variety and twists.
My favourite way to eat cauliflower is to make popcorn by chopping up the florets small, and baking them with olive oil, turmeric, lemon and garlic, they come out all crunchy and delicious, the perfect accompaniments for movie nights if Bradley Cooper is not available.
Cauliflower can be stored as a whole head turned down in the fridge, place inside a paper bag with the leaves removed or cut up into florets and stored in an air tight container. It can also live in the freezer and be taken out when needed. In the fridge it keeps for 5-7 days.
If haven’t yet experimented with Cauliflower rice, try this recipe which is an improved swap for traditional refined white rice. Serve alongside Eggplant and Green Bean Curry.
Makes 1-2 cups depending upon size
- 1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
- pinch of Celtic sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- To make the cauliflower rice, place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse to a fine grain or can be grated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and pan fry the cauliflower for 5–7 minutes, or until al dente.
Use farm-fresh produce to create a decadent dessert like my Cauliflower and Raspberry Cheesecake. The cheesecake gets its’ deliciously creamy texture from cauliflower, and combines an unusual but pleasant pair-up with seasonal fresh raspberries; a perfect use of plant-based produce in delicious dessert form.
Cauliflower and Raspberry Cheesecake
WF, DF, GF, VEG, VG
- 120 g (41/4 oz/3/4 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
- 65 g (21/4 oz/1 cup) additive-free shredded coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut butter
- 310 g (11 oz/2 cups) raw, unsalted cashews
- 1/2 cup coconut butter
- 300 g (101/2 oz/11/2 cups) cooked cauliflower (about 1 small)
- 125 g (41/2 oz/1 cup) frozen raspberries
- 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup, or 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
- 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) additive-free coconut milk
- 60 g (21/4 oz/1/2 cup) fresh raspberries, for decorating
- Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with filtered water and soak for 2 hours. Drain.
- To make the base, place the cashews and shredded
coconut in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and roll out into a dough. Press the dough evenly into a 16 cm (61/4 inch) cake tin and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- To make the filling, combine all the ingredients, except the fresh berries, in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Remove the base from the freezer and pour in the filling, using a spatula to smooth it over. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, or the fridge for 1 hour, until set.
- Top with fresh berries and serve.
This will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge, and 2 weeks in the freezer.
Happy Cooking 🙂