Chef Kelly Unger
In keeping with the Doylestown Farmers Market's Pine 2 Pink theme this month, I’ve decided to rename purple cauliflower, pink cauliflower. Pink (purple) cauliflower is not genetically modified to get that gorgeous color. No, it comes from a naturally occurring antioxidant that is super healthy for you! Cauliflower has enjoyed some time in the spotlight as a great way to replace carbs like potatoes and rice. This is great because there are so many health benefits in cauliflower to boot. Cauliflower contains many nutrients, including 77% of the Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin C! In addition to being low in calories, cauliflower is high in fiber and even white cauliflower is high in antioxidants, including the two that have been shown to slow the growth of cancer. Like its cruciferous cousins, cauliflower is great at reducing inflammation. “Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a nutrient many people are lacking. It is involved in many processes in the body and works to prevent several diseases.” (according to https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6 )
Now, we may be tempted to treat cauliflower like a potato and smother it in butter, cream and cheese. Well, maybe that’s just me? I love a good Cauliflower Gratin. But the best way to avoid doing this is by roasting cauliflower in lots of spices or even just plainly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roasting it really does bring out its sweetness and allowing it to brown makes all the difference. Roasting a cauliflower whole makes a lovely presentation as a main dish. I usually roast individual florets in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or so, drizzled with olive oil, salt and a strong spice like Harissa or Chinese Five Spice, for a great side dish.
Cauliflower makes a lovely pureed soup. Using a plant based milk is the best accompaniment for a creamy texture without the complications of dairy. Almond and cashew are my nut milks of choice but if nuts are an allergen, coconut is best. I haven’t tried oat milk so I can’t speak to it, but it is clearly a nutritional alternative.
This week I’m sharing a link to Epicurious.com for their complete compendium of cauliflower recipes, from healthy to indulgent, salad to main, raw to cooked and everything in between.
And don’t throw away the cauliflower leaves! They’re yummy too! The benefit to buying cauliflower at the farmers market is that the leaves will be attached and you can choose a head with the most leaves for yourself. You can even ask the farmer for more leaves. They may have saved some that were trimmed off. Treat the leaves like kale or collard greens. If you’re steaming your cauliflower, include the chopped leaves as well. They make a nice texture balance.
But I won’t stop you from indulging in a nice French Cauliflower Gratin. Sometimes we all need cream and cheese. If you decide to indulge, my advice is to make Dorie Greenspan’s Cauliflower Gratin. She uses bacon, but that can be easily omitted or replaced with ham, if that’s what you prefer. Dorie’s recipe is in her book Around My French Table, a must own cookbook in my opinion. It’s a lovely one pot meal in my mind, and the kind that is needed on a cold, rainy night. In the link provided for this recipe, Dorie is using a large baking vessel called a Bram. But just use a large baking dish that you have or just cut the recipe in half. Enjoy!