Cauliflower might seem like a bland white veg fit only for the occasional raw veggie platter, but it’s a heavy hitter when it comes to nutrition!
It’s part of the superfood family of powerful cruciferous just like Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. So don’t be fooled by it’s snowy white complextion, cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and choline, just to name a few.
I consider cauliflower to be a wonderful “basic food” that you can cook and flavor a million ways. It has a mild flavor and is easy to find in your local grocery store, year round. It’s one of the few vegetables that I enjoy steamed, but if you want to reap its incredibly dense nutrient load, you have to steam it correctly! Cauliflower is rich in water-soluble vitamins (like C) so use small amounts of water or a steamer basket so there is less vitamin loss into the water.
Start by cutting your cauliflower into 2-inch wide florets, 1 head yields about 5 cups. Place 1-inch of water into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the florets and cover with a lid. Steam 4 to 5 minutes, on high heat, for an entire head’s worth of florets — until they are tender when pressed with the tines of a fork. Add a 1/4 cup of water if the level goes down drastically or evaporates.
Don’t overcook cauliflower, you’ll know from the unpleasant smell and mushy texture — this also damages the vital sulfur compounds that are the heart of all their healing properties. Serve immediately or try these tasty ways to dress it up. Just prep your fixings while you steam, to top on hot cauliflower.
Whisk one egg yolk with the zest and juice of one lemon. Toss the yolk mixture with your hot cauliflower for a lemony treat.
Cheese and cauliflower are a match made in gourmet heaven. Instead of making a cheese sauce that requires a ton of grated cheddar, simply place your cooked cauliflower in a small dish. Layer one slice of any cheese (about 100 calories) over top and place in the toaster oven at 400°F for about 1 minute until the cheese melts.
Bacon isn’t bad for you when you enjoy it in moderation — and a few slices go a long way when it comes to flavoring a dish. Top your cauliflower with 3 slices of nitrate-free bacon, cooked and chopped, for around 70 calories and 4 grams of fat.
Chop 1/4 cup of your favorite olives, such as Moroccan, green Cerignola, or mixed spicy olives, and toss onto your florets. Add orange, lemon, or lime zest for extra fresh flavor.
Mix cooked cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil based mayo and 1 to 2 teaspoon of sriracha for a creamy kick that spice lovers will crave.
Mash 1 head of hot steamed cauliflower with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, along with 2 tablespoons sour cream. Mix in chopped scallions, wasabi, or your favorite spice.
Sweet and Savory
Tart balsamic and sweet golden raisins are delicious mixed with any cruciferous veggie, start with 1 tablespoon of balsamic and 1/4 cup golden or red raisins with your cooked cauliflower.
Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet with 3 cloves minced garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for about 1 minute until the garlic becomes golden. Turn the heat off and carefully add the cauliflower florets. Toss well and serve.
Just Kidding Around
Cauliflower is a kid-friendly food, even for the worst veggie hater. Try cutting cauliflower into “mini-florets” and floating them in homemade or store-bought chicken broth along with their favorite noodles. Or add cauliflower mash to any cheesy kid food, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, or cheddar soup.
South of the Border
Sprinkle cooked cauliflower with taco seasoning and top with 1/2 cup grated cheese and a few tablespoons of salsa.
Do you love chicken Parmesan? Then this dish is for you! Top cooked cauliflower with 1/2 cup of your favorite marinara (or homecooked marinara), then sprinkle with 1 cup grated mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated Parmsan. Place in the oven at 400°F for about 4 minutes until the cheese melts, then serve immediately.
Mix and match your cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower and broccoli, for a dish with more interesting texture and color. Make an easy peanut sauce by mixing one tablespoon of peanut butter with two teaspoons of low sodium soy sauce. Toss in steamed or sauteed cruciferous and enjoy!
What a Noodle
Love your rich homemade beef stew, but want to give it a healthy boost? Serve it over steamed cauliflower in place of noodles or white potatoes. Pass cauliflower through a potato ricer for optimal texture.
Thanksgiving Day Feast
Cauliflower gratin makes a delectable side-dish. Toss 5 cups of cauliflower with 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of chicken broth mixed with 1 tablespoon of flour. Dot with 4 tablespoons of goat cheese and top with 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs. Cover with cooking spray and bake at least 45 minutes at 350°F.
Use cauliflower to make a savory fritters along with other veggies. Chop florets in a food processor and toss in with grated potato or zucchini.
Perfect for Pasta
Love pasta but looking to cut back on portion size? Instead of serving yourself 3 cups of cooked pasta, swap one cup out and add sauteed or steamed cauliflower florets.
Tangy Tomato Ginger Cauliflower
Studies show that mixing cruciferous veggies with tomato actually increases the uptake of their nutrients. Tangy ginger and sweet tomatoes make a delectable combo that will become your new favorite flavor combo.
1 head cauliflower, any color, cut into florets
2 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, minced
1/4 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg (optional)
1 28-ounce canned, diced tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Heat a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add the oil along with the florets. Sprinkle the florets with salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, while the florets brown.
Add the garlic, ginger, allspice or nutmeg (if using) and cook 1 to 2 minutes more until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Simmer 10 to 15 minute until the the cauliflower is tender and a thick sauce forms. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Stats Per Serving (Serving size: 1 1/2 cups): 139 calories, 4 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 7g fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 4g fiber, 551 mg sodium