For most of my life, cauliflower has been the vegetable equivalent of beige. Always cast aside on veggie trays for the more popular broccoli, the crunchy carrot, and the weirdly sexy cherry tomato. Then, the no-carb crazy happened and all of a sudden, home cooks were ricing the white coniferous beast, or mashing it in the place of potatoes. And then came the superfood infatuation, of which cauliflower was one of the chosen few. A cold weather vegetable, Mark Twain once referred to cauliflower as “nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
Some highlights of cruciferous veg’s healthy CV is that the sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that is also responsible for its signature scent, has been shown to wipe out cancer stem cells, which in turn slows tumor growth. Cauliflower is also filled to the florets with vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, rutin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid and more, with the purple and orange varieties having a higher level of these defensive substances. Other salubrious benefits include anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and digestive properties.
When shopping for cauliflower, focus on creamy white heads (AKA the curd), with no blemishes or soft spots. It should feel dense for its size and if it comes with a few green leaves protecting the bottom of the vegetable, all the better.
Serves 3-4, depending on size of the curd
This is a super au courant way to prepare cauliflower; with the added health benefit of turmeric as pairing the two may help in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
One large head cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed
fresh ground pepper
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
Preheat oven to 400°.
Cut the cauliflower from top to bottom into steaks ¾ to 1 inch thick. Season with sea salt and pepper on both sides. Swirl olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sear steaks on both sides until golden, about two minutes. Work in batches. While searing, mix together spices in a small bowl and add olive oil until wet, about 1 tablespoon. Once all steaks are seared, brush them with the spice mixture. Place in a roasting pan and roast until tender– 12 to 17 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the lime zest and chopped parsley.
Vegan Cauliflower Soup
Try to find purple cauliflower for this recipe because the color is absolutely gorgeous and unexpected in a soup. The nutritional yeast adds a hint of umami to round out the flavor.
1 head cauliflower, leaves and core removed, coarsely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 quart vegetable stock
freshly ground white pepper
Swirl the olive oil in a soup pot. Over medium heat, cook the onion for two minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another two or three minutes until the onion is soft and the garlic releases its aroma. Add the stock and cauliflower and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let go for about 15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Add the sea salt and pepper to taste.
Blend the soup either using an immersion blender in the pot itself, or whirl in a blender in batches. Once finished, add the nutritional yeast and stir until blended.
Makes one quart
The white curd of the cauliflower is a blank canvas for the bright pink color of the beets.
1 head cauliflower, florets broken up
2 medium beets, peeled and sliced
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black peppercorns, or peppercorn blend
Stuff florets, beets, and tarragon into one quart jar, or two pint jars. Bring two cups water to a boil and then add vinegar, salt, sugar, and peppercorns and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour into jars and let cool. Close the jars tightly, put away in a dark place. This pink treat should be ready after 24 hours, 48 if you want the veggies super tender.