Crispy Cauliflower Cakes & More

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Celebrating Colorful Cauliflower

I love cauliflower, and am tickled that finally, after years of glory for its cousin kale, cauliflower is becoming trendy. Long considered a ho-hum vegetable, plain Jane cauliflower turns sublime when partnered with fresh herbs, snappy spices, or savory sauces. Brightly or subtly tinted cauliflowers are the latest rage, and happily, those lovely gold and purple heads are not GMO constructs; instead, hybridizers have carefully hand bred selected colorful forms from chance variations. The result is cheery orange cauliflowers like Cheddar and Sunset, which are high in carotene and vitamin A, as well as gorgeous Violet Queen and Purple Graffiti, both rich in anthocyanins, the antioxidants that make blueberries blue.

Fractal_BroccoliThe heritage Italian romanesco cauliflower is sometimes sold as broccoli, since these cole cousins are closely related, and indeed, it marks the transition of one vegetable into the next (kind of like plums and cherries, which are so closely related that’s it’s sometimes difficult to suss out which a given fruit really is). Spiky green romanesco has a mellow, almost nut-like flavor without the peppery bite of white cauliflower. It’s beautiful when broken into slim spears and grilled, making an elegant side for almost anything.

From Boring To Bodacious

If you still think cauliflower is dull, try a new prep technique. To my mind, cauliflower tastes best when lightly steamed, or roasted into caramelized sweetness, and horrid when boiled to sludge. If raw cauliflower doesn’t thrill you, serve lightly steamed florets with garlic-enriched hummus, Tuscan bean spread, or goat cheese mixed with fresh thyme or basil. After roasting, rub cauliflower with chili or curry powder for a piquant flavor twist. Toss steamed cauliflower with a lime vinaigrette and toasted pumpkin seeds.Add thinly sliced purple or golden cauliflower to sandwiches and wraps for extra color and crunch. Roasted with avocado oil and a little sea salt, it’s one of my favorite suppers for one. Before you know it, cauliflower will be your new go-to veg.

Crisp Cauliflower Cakes With Lemon & Capers

1 large head cauliflower, cut in florets (about 8 cups)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour OR rice flour
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons butter
juice of 1/2 lemon, rind grated
2 tablespoons caper, drained
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

Steam cauliflower until tender (5-7 minutes). Mash, cool, and stir in salt, eggs, and green onions. Form into 8 balls. roll in flour and pat into flat cakes about half an inch tall, set aside. Heat oil in a wide, shallow pan over medium high heat and cook cakes until crisp, turning once (4-6 minutes per side). Remove to a warm plate and add butter to the pan. When melted, add lemon juice, capers and paprika (and more salt to taste if need be) and spoon over cakes. Serves 4.

Riced Is Nice

Light and delicate, riced cauliflower brings our the best in sauces, and can replace mashed potatoes or top a shepherd’s pie.

Basic Riced Cauliflower

1 whole head cauliflower, cut in florets
1 tablespoon pastured butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Steam cauliflower for 5-7 minutes then press through a ricer into a serving bowl. Gently stir in butter and salt, set aside and serve with mushroom sauce (see below), or any pasta or curry sauce.

Savory Mushroom Sauce

1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces crimini or any mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry red wine or water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a wide, shallow pan, combine oil, onion, and salt over medium high heat and cook until soft (10-12 minutes). Add wine and mushrooms, cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms shrink by half (10-15 minutes). Season to taste with pepper and serve at once over cauliflower, rice, or pasta.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower & Carrots

1/2 head (about 4 cups) cauliflower florets
4 plump carrots, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon garam masala or chili powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub vegetables with oil and place ina single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and roast until lightly caramelized (30-40 minutes). Toss with your preferred spice and serve hot. Serves 4.

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