I know most people hate cauliflower, but hear me out people! It is a great vegetable and has a sweet, nutty flavour when it is not overcooked. When it is overcooked, especially if it’s boiled or steamed, it stinks and gets mushy and has about as much appeal as a papercut on your eyeball (eeyaaagh!). It has LOADS of vitamin C, is a source of vitamin K, folate and fiber. As well, like all cruciferous vegetables, it helps detox the liver and is known as a superfood that is thought to help prevent cancer.
This is all well and good, but as I’ve already warned you, DO NOT OVERCOOK IT. Cauliflower contains sulfur-containing compounds. The more you overcook it, the more it will smell and taste like sulfur. If you don’t believe me, overcook some and leave it in the fridge overnight. As my grade 6 math teacher so eloquently put it, “It’s enough to knock a buzzard off a shit truck!”. Oh Mr Rideout, too bad you had to go on “stress leave” after Christmas break. Anyway, I digress.
I was at my local farmer’s market the other day and they had beautiful purple cauliflower. They looked like little rich velvet mounds. So pretty. I didn’t have my camera, so you’ll all have to close your eyes and imagine it. They had cheddar cauliflower last year, so hopefully they’ll have it again this year. Cheddar cauliflower doesn’t taste like cheese (Aw, nuts!), but it has a vibrant orange colour. I really like to roast cauliflower in the oven. Just toss florets with a little oil, salt, pepper and whole garlic cloves and roast on a baking sheet at about 350F for about 30-45 minutes or so. You’ll have to toss them every now and then to ensure even browning on the edges. That brown colour is flavour. You’d be suprised at how sweet the cauliflower gets when roasted. Roasting helps to preserve the beautiful colours if you get a cheddar or purple head.
You can either eat it simply as a side roasted, or then puree it into a soup with a little stock and cream. It’s delicious. Or you could add some curry and have curried cauliflower soup, also quite tasty. You don’t have to add too much stock, so add it slowly. I just add a splash to get it going, puree it and then add more stock until I have the desired consistency.
Cauliflower also makes a beautiful puree as a base for composed dishes. It’s almost like mashed potatoes. It has a nutty, sweet, fresh flavour that potatoes are missing, though, so it’s actually better in some applications. The puree is lighter and less stodgy than the traditional, starchy purees.
For the ultimate in cauliflower side dishes, nothing beats a cauliflower gratin. For casual dinners, I usually wing it with a bechamel, lightly blanched cauliflower, bread crumbs and grated gruyer, but here’s the recipe I follow closely if I’m making it for a dinner party. I guess great Laura’s think alike when it comes to gratin.
Now go eat some cauliflower! It’s available all year round, but get some fresh, beautiful colours at your local markets!
P.S.- I am still working on the trivet. It’s taking much longer than I’d expected, but it will be awesome! Promise!