Look below to find more info about cauliflower including: health benefits, general cooking tips and some of the best Food Bank recipes that include cauliflower.
While white cauliflower is the most common variety, this cousin of broccoli comes in all different colors of the rainbow, from orange and purple to vibrant green.
So, why is most cauliflower white?
When a head of cauliflower is about the size of a tennis ball, farmers wrap the outer leaves of the cauliflower plant around the budding head. This stops sunlight from reaching the head of the cauliflower. If left open to the sunlight, cauliflower turns a warm yellow-orange hue. So if you see a cauliflower with a slight yellow or orange tint, it does not mean that the cauliflower is going bad, it just means that a little bit of sunlight reached the cauliflower as it was growing!
- In general, the more colorful the vegetable, the more nutritious. The pigments that make vegetables colorful are called phytonutrients, nutrients found in fruits and vegetables that are beneficial to our health, but cannot be categorized as vitamins or minerals. Despite the pale color of cauliflower, white cauliflower is just as rich in phytonutrients as other colors of cauliflower and other colorful vegetables!
- In fact, one cup of cauliflower, cooked or raw, contains nearly 75% of the average America’s daily recommended intake of Vitamin C; that’s almost as much as an orange!
- Store whole heads in a loosely sealed plastic bag for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. Tuck a paper towel in the bag to absorb excess moisture. If you can, wait to breakdown the head of cauliflower until just before cooking to minimize nutrient loss during storage.
When you eat cauliflower, you are actually eating tiny bundles of hundreds and hundreds of immature flowers, hence the name cauli-FLOWER. That’s where the term floret comes from too— you’ll notice many cauliflower recipes call for breaking down a head of cauliflower into florets.
HOW TO BREAK DOWN A HEAD OF CAULIFLOWER
Step 1: Cut the cauliflower in half through the stem, and then cut into quarters.
Step 2: Break large florets from the cauliflower stem where they snap off naturally.
Step 3: Cut through the stems the large florets and then break them into 2-inch pieces.
Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable. It can be boiled, steamed, microwaved, roasted, grilled, even cooked and mashed as an alternative to mashed potatoes, or blended into soup recipes for a dairy-free way to make silky, “creamy” pureed soups.
For this recipe you will need a steamer basket that fits in the pot that you will use for cooking. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and insert a steamer basket over the top of the pot. Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat. When the water is simmering, place the cauliflower stems and florets in the steamer basket and cover. Allow the cauliflower to steam for 4 to 5 minutes.
Steamed Cauliflower in the Microwave
Place cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe dish and cover loosely with plastic wrap, a damp paper towel, or a microwave-safe lid. When cooking non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, add 1 Tablespoon of water to the bottom of the microwave-safe dish to help the steam-cooking process. Microwave for 4 to 5 minutes on HIGH, for every 1-2 cups of cauliflower.
Sauté or Stir Fry Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a great addition to healthy stir fried or sautéed vegetable dishes. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and allow the pan to get hot. When the pan is hot, add 2 Tablespoons of cooking oil. Add chopped cauliflower and your other favorite vegetables to the pan. Keep the vegetables dancing (sauté means “to dance” in Italian), so that they don’t burn— that’s why it’s called “stir” frying. When the vegetables start to caramelize and turn a toasty brown, add your stir fry sauce or season and serve. Check out this quick recipe for a healthy stir-fry:
Eat it Raw!
Raw cauliflower is a great addition to any veggie tray. Add cauliflower florets to a tray with carrot and celery sticks, broccoli florets and stems, slices of bell pepper. Try a chickpea hummus or eggplant baba ganoush dip for a healthier alternative to ranch dressing. Check out the Food Bank’s recipe for baba ganoush:
Try roasting cauliflower in the oven! The natural sugars in cauliflower caramelize when roasted in the oven, which makes the cauliflower taste even sweeter.
1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbl olive oil or other cooking oil
½ tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375˚.
- Cut cauliflower in half through the stem, then cut into quarters.
- Break large florets off the stem by hand and cut florets and the stem into 2-inch chunks.
- Toss the cauliflower pieces in oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.
Try seasoning cauliflower with your favorite herbs and spices for a healthy flavor boost. Try these combinations: ½ teaspoon curry powder and ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon rosemary and ¼ teaspoon thyme, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.