All About Cauliflower
Featured Recipe: Aloo Gobi Mutter
More Ideas for Cauliflower


All About Cauliflower

Cauliflower heads should be firm and tightly closed, with bud clusters that are not separated. White varieties should be very pale, creamy white, not spotted or dull colored. Softness is a sign of spoilage, and any flowers or open flower clusters are a sign of overmaturity. The thick green leaves protect the head, so heads with many leaves may be fresher. Size should not affect quality but the heads should feel heavy for their size.
 
If you purchase or prepare pre-cut cauliflower florets, consume them within one or two days. Since cooking causes cauliflower to spoil quicker, consume cooked cauliflower within two to three days of placing in the refrigerator.
 
STORING
Store cauliflower unwashed in an open or perforated plastic bag for a few days or up to one week. If you are storing extremely fresh cauliflower, it may last longer. I have read that storing with the stem side either up or down (depending on the source of information) can help prevent moisture from developing in the floret clusters.
 
PREPARING
Cauliflower can be served cooked or raw. The leaves and stem are edible, though we typically peel off the leaves. Trim any brown-colored or soft spots. The head may be cooked whole, but rapid cooking time minimizes the production of odorous sulfur compounds, which can give cauliflower an unpleasant taste.  Rapid cooking also preserves crispness, color, and nutrients. To trim into florets, turn the cauliflower upside down, and cut the stem just above where the florets join together. Separate the florets into equal sized pieces. Cut if necessary.
 
Some compounds may react with iron in cookware and cause cauliflower to take on a brownish hue.  If you are using iron pots, add some lemon juice to the cooking water to avoid this.
 
Steaming
Place florets in a steamer basket, and then place in a pot with 2 inches of water. Cover and steam for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just tender.
 
Roasting
Toss florets with olive oil, salt and pepper (and lemon juice if desired); spread the florets on a baking sheet and roast at 400F until they begin to brown and smell quite nutty, about 15 minutes.
 
FREEZING
Trim the leaves and prepare 1-inch florets. Remove any lingering dirt by rinsing florets with running water. You  may also want to soak them in brine for 30 minutes to remove insects. Blanch the florets for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling, salted water (4 tsp. salt per gallon). Plunge immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process. Thoroughly drain the cauliflower florets, and place them in a single layer in zippered freezer bags. Lay the bags flat in the freezer.
 
Stews and soups made with cauliflower may also be frozen.
 
Sources:
LA Times
Project Fresh (Michigan State University)
The World's Healthiest Foods
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm
PickYourOwn.org
 
- Jackie Starr

Aloo Gobi Mutter

There are many versions of this Northern Indian vegetable curry, but what follows is the one I use at home. It is light and vegan, if you use vegetable oil, as suggested, instead of ghee. The flavors of the vegetables really shine through loud and clear, even if you up the spice ante!!

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 thumb of ginger root, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup water
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 head cauliflower, divided into florets 
Juice of 2 limes
1-2 green chiles, sliced (optional)
Salt to taste
3/4 cup frozen peas
 
Heat the oil in a large pot that has a cover. When it is hot, add the grated ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute, then add the three spice powders. Cook for another minute and add the tomatoes. Now cook the mixture for several minutes into a saucy mix. Stir in the water and add the potatoes to the pan, stirring to coat. Now cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are beginning to soften. Add the cauliflower florets to the pan; cover and simmer until both the potatoes and cauliflower are cooked through and softened, but not mushy, about 7-10 minutes more. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice, salt and green chiles to taste. Stir in the peas and allow them to warm from the heat in the dish. Serve with rice and or flatbreads.

Nancy Gold is a LexFarm founding member and former LexFarm board member. She continues to work on LexFarm's education committee to bring Farm Based Education Programs to the public. She is sad to see so many area farms lost to development pressures and is gratified that the community valued the Busa Farm enough to rally around it and ultimately save it!


More Ideas for Cauliflower

APPETIZERS
Serve simple roasted cauliflower as part of an appetizer platter along with roasted carrots and something green, such as asparagus, green beans, or zucchini.  It's guaranteed to disappear.  This could also be served as a side dish.

Or roast florets with warm-flavored spices.  Don't forget the toothpicks.
 
SOUPS
Variations on a simple cauliflower soup can range from pure essence of cauliflower to a cream-less creamy soup.  This version sports a hint of cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil, and this one includes crispy prosciutto topped with toasted almonds.

Spice it up with the warm flavors of curry.  Vary curried cauliflower soup by adding cumin, coconut milk, or turmeric, coconut milk and lime.

For different flavor profiles, add other vegetables, such as leeks or kale to cauliflower soup.
 
SALADS
Mix raw cauliflower with crunchy radishes, chickpeas, and scallions, and top with a garlicky yogurt dressing.

Top thinly sliced cauliflower with crispy fried capers for cauliflower slaw.

Toss quickly blanched cauliflower with a warm black peppercorn vinaigrette along with nuts, apples, olives, and feta.

Add North African spices to blanched cauliflower, and toss with a lemony vinaigrette.

Roasted cauliflower provides the base for this salad with watercress, walnuts and gruyere.
 
MAIN DISHES
A newly popular preparation for cauliflower is to cut it into "steaks" that can be roasted or grilled.  This pan-seared-then-roasted version is served with an olive relish and tomato sauce.

Or you can roast the head of cauliflower whole, and serve it with Romesco sauce.

Add roasted cauliflower to soba noodles with a miso-tahini sauce to make a meal.

Pairing cauliflower with anchovies is a classic combination.  Start with florets that have been steamed, roasted (with garlic chips), or boiled, then roasted.  Any of these could be served over pasta to make it into a meal.  You could also try spaghetti with tomatoes and anchovies or linguine with anchovies and raisins.
 
With or without the anchovies, this group of ingredients can be used in endless variations of pasta dishes, such as shells with saffron or rigatoni with pine nuts and raisins.

Mix cauliflower with broccoli in this colorful pasta dish with herbed noodles.  If you have time to make it, homemade pasta is wonderful here.

If you enjoy Indian spices, try cashew curry or cauliflower with potatoes.

Try a vegetarian cauliflower curry in the Afghan style.

Instead of mac-and-cheese, try cauliflower-and-broccoli cheese.

Add cauliflower to risotto.

Make pizza crust out of cauliflower and goat cheese or almonds.

Add cauliflower to steamed mussels with basil and lime.
 
SIDE DISHES
You can crumble cauliflower to make a low-carb alternative to rice or couscous

Add nuts and herbs to make a warm salad from cauliflower "couscous"with green peas and herbs or with Middle Eastern flavors.

Sauté cauliflower with ginger, chiles, spices, and sesame seeds.

Simply roast with garlic, olive oil and lemon or add some Parmesan.

Transport yourself to the Middle East with roasted cauliflower served with salted yogurt, mint, and pomegranate seeds.

Turn cooked cauliflower in pan-fried patties.

RECIPE ROUNDUPS
For more cauliflower inspiration, check out these collections from Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Martha Stewart, and Food 52.
 

- Compiled by Jackie Starr and Betsy Pollack