Move over, kale. This year’s newest food craze is cauliflower. This low-starch, high-nutrition cousin of broccoli is quickly taking center stage as the food trend of the moment .
Cauliflower’s winning trait is its versatility. Look past the boiled and bland dish your grandmother used to make, and you’ll find that people are experimenting with preparations that are way outside the box.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it’s a member of the cabbage family. It’s related to kale, cabbage, and broccoli, and it contains many of the nutrients common to this family that can’t be found in most other vegetables.
The cauliflower is thought to have been developed by Arabs in the Middle Ages, and some claim the best seeds always came from Aleppo in Syria . Today it is grown all over the world, and, if you have a bit of a green thumb, you can grow it in your backyard.
Fun Fact: Cauliflower means flowered cabbage, but the vegetable is actually a flower that hasn’t fully developed yet .
Key Health Benefits
Cauliflower provides a trifecta of health benefits for the body: detox support, antioxidant support, and anti-inflammatory support. It’s also rich in Vitamin C, providing 73 percent of the recommended daily value.
A potent mix of phytonutrients (including glucosinolates), beta-carotene, vitamins, and fiber make this vegetable a cancer-fighting champion and a star for promoting overall good health .
Cauliflower doesn’t just pack a serious health punch. Because the florets look like tiny trees and because it comes in colors ranging from white and green to orange and purple, it’s a fun vegetable that kids are much less likely to turn their noses up at!
3 Unusual Preparations of Cauliflower
It’s time to start thinking outside the box for your cauliflower recipes. We’ve all had that soggy veggie side once too often.
As chefs and foodies start to pay more attention to this vegetable, we’re seeing recipes as far-reaching as deep-fried, beer-battered, Buffalo cauliflower, which made an appearance on the Food Network’s new show Super Snack Bros . This version is the ultimate indulgent veggie alternative to chicken wings.
While that double-deep-fried cauliflower wing won’t win any health awards, plenty of health-conscious alternative preparations are out there that are just as surprising and just as delicious.
1. Cauliflower Couscous
This Moroccan-inspired couscous is a fresh, versatile dish that makes a perfect substitute for rice or couscous in both hot and cold dishes. Pair it with stir-fries or curries, use it as a flavorful side with meat and veggies, or add it to cold salads.
- Remove the outside leaves from the cauliflower and chop into florets. Remove any hard stems from the base of the florets.
- Process florets in a food processor until they reach couscous consistency (you may need to process the florets in batches to ensure an even consistency).
- Heat olive oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower mixture, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 3–5 minutes.
- Toss with fresh cilantro and serve hot.
Pro Tip: To keep your cauliflower couscous creamy and fluffy, use butter and toss frequently in the pan. Fluff with a fork before serving.
2. Cauliflower Mash
This creamy-smooth mash is both light and satisfying. It is an ideal substitute for mashed potatoes, allowing you can skip the starch and have a second helping! Pair it with roast chicken, lamb, or crunchy heirloom veggies.
- Remove the outside leaves from the cauliflower and chop into florets. Boil in a pot for about 10 minutes until well cooked and soft. Pat the florets dry between two paper towels.
- Bring broth to a boil on the stove and remove from heat. Add cauliflower, butter, and garlic, and blend with an immersion blender until the desired consistency has been reached.
- Stir in salt and pepper.
- Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chives and serve hot.
Pro Tip: Cauliflower soaks up the flavors it’s cooked with, so try experimenting with your favorite herbs and spices to create your own perfect cauliflower mash.
3. Cauliflower Soup
This velvety soup requires no milk or cream to reach its rich, smooth consistency. The subtle flavors come to life with the simple addition of nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve it with a thick slice of nutty cranberry bread.
- Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until they become translucent.
- Add cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, and broth to the pot. Lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 15 minutes until mixture becomes soft.
- Purée the mixture in a blender until completely smooth. Transfer back to the stockpot and add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir and heat through.
- Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
Pro Tip: Try serving the soup topped with slivers of toasted garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, or crumbled bacon. For an extra kick, add ¼ tsp cayenne pepper with the nutmeg.
Versatility, Speed, Healthiness
Cauliflower’s shape-shifting talents in recipes from couscous to soup make it easy to incorporate the health benefits of this all-star vegetable in almost any meal. Because it can be eaten raw or cooked, it is super-fast to prepare compared to rice or potatoes, making it a winning choice for those with busy lives!