Post #429 Cauliflower, It’s What’s For Dinner

October 19, 2015 at 12:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #429 Cauliflower, It’s What’s For Dinner

More years ago than I like to think about, I had moved out of my mom and dad’s house and was living in a small travel trailer in a travel trailer park in my home town.  One lazy Saturday afternoon, I was sitting inside with all the doors and windows open talking with a friend who had dropped by.  As we talked, an old man was wandering up and down the lanes selling fresh vegetables.  He held out a head of cauliflower that was sparkling white and huge.  He only wanted a dollar for it, so I gave him four quarters, set the veggie on the table and continued talking to my friend.  Without thinking about it, I broke off a small piece and started crunching on it while offering some to my friend.  Within an hour, we have devoured that whole head of cauliflower, half a cheese ball, and most of a box of crackers.  It was the first time I’d ever eaten raw cauliflower, but it reinforced an opinion that has stayed strong all my life.  Veggies are good.

cauliflower

Cauliflower is part of the cabbage and kale group of veggies, closely related to broccoli.  It’s a white vegetable that, to me, looks remarkably like a brain, or what I imagine a brain looks like.  It comes in a lot of different varieties and colors ranging from white to green to purple.  It’s high in vitamin C and dietary fiber and low in fats and carbohydrates, making it an excellent food for anyone on a low carb diet.  It is versatile and can be cooked in lot of different ways.  We’re going to explore some of those ways now.

First, when cooking this veggie it’s important to remove all the green stems.  You can eat this part if you feel like cooking them for a couple of hours, but I don’t recommend it.  Apart from that, all other parts are edible.  Most people like to break it into small bite-sized florets while others like to cut or chop it into even smaller pieces.  It can be a little messy when cutting or chopping, but make sure you get all the little pieces because they’re all good and good for you.  The stalks can be eaten as well, but I mostly use them for soup.

Most of the time, cauliflower is steamed or boiled.  It cooks remarkably quickly this way and is done when a fork can poke its way easily to the center.  Try not to overcook it because it can get mushy pretty quickly.  Once it’s done, try to serve it immediately.  Lots of people  sprinkle grated cheese of various types over it, as well as bacon bits, chopped green onion, or cheese sauce.  Use your imagination.  I personally like it just as is with a very light sprinkle of salt.  It has a good flavor that doesn’t need to be hidden.

Another very popular way of eating it is chopped fine into a salad or nearly any kind.  In a green salad, its white color and graininess gives the appearance of snow.  In mayonnaise-based salads (chicken, tuna, etc.), that same color allows it to hide in the dressing and provides a surprise crunch.

One method of cooking that has become popular recently is mashed.  When it’s steamed or boiled soft, it’s easy to mash the vegetable.  It’s becoming popular this way since it is so low in carbs and is an acceptable substitute for mashed potatoes.  The trouble is mashed cauliflower can be soupy.  What most cooks do to fix this is make a blend of potato and cauliflower.  Use about 1/4 potato to cauliflower for best results in both texture and health benefits.  Otherwise, mashed cauliflower can be used exactly as you would mashed potatoes with the same additions and flavorings.

I’ve roasted cauliflower florets with other vegetables to make a good side dish, but there are a couple of other ways to roast the veggie that make it stand on its own.

The first way is as a side dish.  Heat your oven to 350.  Cut away all the outer leaves and cut the stem so it’s even with the head of the plant so it sits evenly in a baking dish.  Take a quarter cup (half a stick) of softened butter and spread it evenly over the entire head of the vegetable.  Then sprinkle it lightly with whatever is your favorite herb/spice blend.  Bake for half an hour then sprinkle the whole thing with parmesan so coat it medium thickly and return to the oven for another half hour to 45 minutes.  It should be soft to eat and golden to dark brown on the top.  You can mix it up with whatever herbs and spices you like, whatever cheese you like.  You can even substitute the butter for olive oil or mayonnaise or whatever else you have to make the herbs stick to the vegetable and add flavor.  Serve it hot and whole and let the family scoop out what they want.  {Note:  As I was typing this, it occurred to me that you could also make this sweet with sugar, honey, or something of that nature.  I haven’t tried that, but it would be worth it to play around with.}

The other roasting way turns it into a main dish and is called Stuffed Cauliflower.  It can be done two ways, inside or outside.  Whichever way you’re cooking it determines what you’ll want to use to stuff it.  The inside method uses a meat stuffing.  Carefully hollow out the stem leaving a fairly large bowl shape inside the cauliflower head.  Fill the bowl with a meatloaf type stuffing.  Set the cauliflower bowl-side up on a baking sheet with an aluminum foil ring to keep the veggie upright.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and the meat is cooked thoroughly.  Cool for 10-15 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.  The outside method is similar to the side dish above.  Prepare the cauliflower as above cutting the stem so it sits evenly.  Prepare a thick, sticky bread stuffing and plaster it to the outside of the cauliflower head all the way down to the baking sheet or dish.  Bake at 350 until the cauliflower is tender.  Cut into wedges and serve hot.  The outer stuffing will be crisp and tasty while the vegetable will be tender and steamy.

So, which one is my favorite?  Hmmm, I would have to say, all of them

Enjoy

 

 

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