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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Things To Do With Cauliflower

I want to advocate for cauliflower. It is one of the most versatile vegetables ever. Plus I really love it. And it is full of goodie goodie nutrients. I mean, come on!

I like it just straight up steamed with butter, salt and pepper.

You want to cut off all the leaves and cut out the core to create a cone-shaped hole in the middle. Wash the cauliflower really well - upside down in running water for quite a while. That way you can get a lot of the chemicals, bacteria and dirt out of it. Cut off any unsightly spots on the surface.

Put the so prepared cauliflower in a pot with about an inch of water. Sprinkle with salt and place a lid on the pot. Bring water to a boil and the reduce heat to about medium. Steam the cauliflower until you can insert a knife down the middle and there is little or no resistance.

If you are going to eat it just steamed, don't overcook it. If however you are going to make a delicious mash, cook it until it's quite soft, but not falling apart.

Mashed Cauliflower

You'll never look back after you've had this. It is divine!

Cook a cauliflower as described above, but let it get pretty soft. Lift it out of the water with a slotted spoon - or whatever you have and set on a plate to let the last moisture evaporate.

You can now put the cauliflower in a bowl and mash it with a masher. But I like to whir it around in the food processor, which makes for a much silkier mash. Either way, once the cauliflower is mashed, add in some dairy - here you can use either heavy cream, half and half, or milk. Just enough to give it a nice creamy texture. Add some butter - be conservative or liberal depending on your diet and preferences. Check for salt and adjust the seasonings. At this point you can add some black pepper - or if you don't like the black specks, add white pepper. Maybe a grating of nutmeg. Nutmeg and cauliflower love each other.

At this stage, you can just eat it and it will be delish. But you can also take it a step farther:

Butter an appropriate sized Pyrex dish and put your cauliflower mash in it. Top with parmesan cheese or white cheddar - or whatever you want. You can toss your grated cheddar with bread crumbs and put that on top. You can even whip some cheese into the mash AND top it with cheese. You can stir in some chives, or parsley, or both. Use the ol' imagination.

Bake this beautiful concoction in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is browned.

Cauliflower mash can most definitely stand in for mashed potatoes, and I actually prefer it.

Roasted Cauliflower

Whenever you roast someone from the cabbage family (and cauliflower belongs to that family), you can unleash some pretty unsavory smells and tastes. Roasting brings out sugars and these types of vegetables don't contain a lot of sugar. Therefore you want to coax out what they do have without spoiling the taste. Cauliflower is one of the easier cabbage members to roast. Once roasted, you can use it for a vegetable or toss it with beautiful greens and a vinaigrette for a salad.

Prepare and wash a cauliflower as described above. Break or cut it into flowerettes. Now you are going to have huge flowerettes and small ones. So cut or break your huge ones until everyone is about the same size.  Make sure your cauliflowerettes are well drained, too - the less water they have on them (preferably none), the better they will roast.

In a large bowl toss the flowerettes with 2-3 tablespoons of good olive oil and about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. If you have a tiny cauliflower, adjust your amounts accordingly. Both the fat and the salt will bring out those sugars of which we spoke.

Spread cauliflower evenly on a baking sheet and pop it into a 450 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes. You can toss things around with a spatula after about 20 minutes and see how it's doing. The cauliflower should be tender and toasty looking. Let me just say: Yum.

Cauliflower Mishat

Here is a recipe for cauliflower that will blow your mind to little bits. Cauliflower patties with deep, rich flavors that taste nothing like cauliflower. People can't believe there's no meat in them. These following directions are based on a Middle Eastern recipe. I took the concept and created my own. Try it and let me know how you like it.

1 head cauliflower, trimmed of stems and core
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic pressed or chopped
Zest of a lemon
Juice of a lemon
3 eggs
1/2 cup panko crumbs (or other bread crumbs)
½ bunch parsley chopped finely
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup oil - but you probably need more

Process the raw cauliflower in batches in a food processor – or chop it to micro bits with a knife and place in bowl. Chop onion super fine and add, along with pressed garlic. Chop parsley and add to the vegetables along with the lemon zest. Stir to combine.

Stir in beaten eggs, lemon juice salt, cumin and combine well. Add bread crumbs stir lightly.

Heat oil in skillets until it ripples a bit. Drop batter into oil by the tablespoon-full, pat the piles down to patties and cook at medium heat. When the patties have set, after about 7 minutes, carefully turn over and finish cooking until brown.

Place on paper towels and keep warm in the oven. Cook the next batch until you are finished.

Serve with Raita 

And here's the raita recipe: 


Cucumber Raita – to accompany the cauliflower mishat

1 ½ cucumbers
32 oz of whole milk or Greek yogurt
Many cloves of garlic
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ bunch chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped mint

Scrub the cukes and cut off the ends. Cut the cuke in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Grate on the large side of the grater. 

Peel and press 4-5 cloves of garlic. Add to grated cucumber. Add salt and yogurt. Add herbs. Combine very well.

Chill until ready to eat. Can be made a day ahead.

I also have a recipe for cauliflower pizza - but I'll save that for another day. It's carb free and totally delicious. 


  1. Question: have you tried mace in your mash (I'm thinking 1/2 the amount of nutmeg you'd otherwise use) ?
    I'm on a personal quest to use up the $10 worth of ground mace I bought this year....because a house guest said "Oh, you'll never use that!" Watch me. So far: BBQ sauce, bread, and rice mash?

    1. I don't see why not, Michi. Give it a try and let me know how it tastes. Make some cookies with that mace!

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