Remember when all you heard and read about was kale, kale, and more kale? Well, now it’s cauliflower that has everyone excited. This is a huge change for the vegetable that used to be considered broccoli’s boring, white cousin. Now, the veggie that everyone thought was bland is the one everyone can’t get enough of. Finally, we have figured out that the mild flavor of cauliflower is receptive to being cooked with a variety of flavors and spices. Cauliflower is versatile, able to be cooked in its natural form or transformed into so many forms and textures, it may surprise you. Cauliflower may be white but it also comes in a variety of colors including orange and purple for beautiful as well as delicious dishes. If you haven’t jumped on board the cauliflower bandwagon yet, now’s the time. Try these recipes and you’ll see why cauliflower is the new kale.
1. Smooth Soups
Soup made with cauliflower is smooth, creamy and delicious. The mild flavor of the cauliflower will take on whatever spices and herbs you use. The soup can be a shimmering white color or if you buy cauliflower in different colors, you can have a beautiful presentation of pink or orange soup. I love using purple cauliflower to make soup. It turns out this gorgeous, dark pink color that is just lovely. To make my Purple Cauliflower Soup: Saute 1 small, chopped onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic in oil in a soup pot. Cook for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add 1 head of cauliflower that has been stemmed, cored and broken into florets and 1 quart of low-sodium vegetable broth. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 20-30 minutes until the cauliflower is falling apart. Remove the soup from the heat. Reserve about ½ cup of the cauliflower from the soup and set it aside for the garnish. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until it is smooth. Serve soup in bowls garnished with the reserved cauliflower and chopped chives. For more cauliflower soup recipes, try this 5-Ingredient Cauliflower Soup, Creamy Potato and Cauliflower Soup and this Raw Cauliflower Crème Soup.
2. Rice is Nice But…
Did you know that cauliflower is magical? It is. Most of us cut the head of cauliflower into florets but those florets can be turned into shapes and textures that will amaze you. Sure, that dish looks like rice but it’s really cauliflower. Making Cauliflower Rice is as easy as this: take a head of cauliflower that has been stemmed, cored and broken into florets and place those florets in a food processor in batches. Pulse until the cauliflower is broken down into rice-like pieces. That’s it, you’re done. You can freeze your “rice” in storage bags for future use. Use as you would any rice to make your favorite dishes, even risotto. See for yourself by making this Spicy Curry Cauliflower Rice with Kale, Spicy Orange Cauliflower Couscous, and Unfried Cauliflower Rice with Ginger Miso Sauce.
3. You Say Potato, I Say Cauliflower
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/recipe-caulimash/ When cauliflower is pureed, it has a similar texture to mashed potatoes. That means we can replace part or all of the starchy potatoes with cauliflower and make lighter, healthier dishes that still taste great. To make Cauliflower Mash, cook cauliflower florets in boiling water for 6-8 minutes. Drain and pat the cauliflower dry with towels. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor and add non-dairy cream or coconut milk, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper and your favorite herbs like rosemary or thyme. Puree until smooth and serve warm. A similar recipe is this CauliMash. Instead of the usual potatoes, make this Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin. In this recipe for Cauliflower Puree, cauliflower and broccoli are cooked together to make a smooth, green side while these Potato and Cauliflower Tater Tots combine two delicious tastes to make an old favorite treat.
4. Silky Sauces
Some of my favorite sauces are the rich, creamy, cheesy ones that get used for mac and cheese or Alfredo pasta dishes. Well, we can make those sauces lighter and healthier by using cauliflower. When you put cauliflower in a food processor with cashews or non-dairy milk, some nutritional yeast and spices, you get a rich, creamy, cheesy sauce that is so much better for you. Try it in this Smoky Vegan Mac and Cheese. Feel better about eating a big bowl of pasta with this Vegetable Rigatoni with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce, Fettucine Alfredo with Zucchini Pasta and Cauliflower Sauce and Spaghetti Squash with Basil and Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo.
5. Cauliflower Uncut
When you really want to make a statement or need a centerpiece for your table that will have everyone talking, try making a roasted whole head of cauliflower. You can make any kind of marinade you like to coat the head of cauliflower with. I chose my favorite ethnic flavor profile, Jamaican, for my cauliflower head. To make my Whole Roasted Jerk Cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a small baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking oil spray. Make sure the cauliflower is clean of leaves on the bottom and trim the stem. In a bowl, make the marinade by combining 8 oz. non-dairy plain yogurt, the zest and juice of one lime, 2 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. tamari, 2 tsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. ground allspice, 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. chile powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper and 1/8 tsp. each ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg, and ground cloves. Taste it for seasoning adjustments. Use a pastry brush to spread the marinade onto the cauliflower head. Be sure to completely cover the whole head. Place the head of cauliflower in the oven and roast 40 minutes or until the marinade is dry and the cauliflower is fork-tender. Turn the broiler on for 2-3 minutes to get a bit of char on the head. Remove from the oven and let cook for 10 minutes. Cut the head into wedges or slices. For another recipe, try this ‘Cheesy’ Whole Roasted Cauliflower.
6. Shuffle Off to Buffalo
Mmm…Buffalo sauce. I love Buffalo sauce so much, I would eat my vegan shoe if it was covered in it. When you want a snack or appetizer reminiscent of Buffalo wings, you can make it with seitan or tofu or you can make it with cauliflower. The mild flavor of cauliflower is perfect for soaking up the spicy Buffalo sauce. No need for frying either; you can get crispy cauliflower by roasting it. Choose from these Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, and this Buffalo Cauliflower with Sweet Potato Noodles.
7. Indian Delights
Cauliflower is a popular ingredient in Indian dishes. It’s amazing when cooked with all the bold flavors of Indian cuisine. In the Northern Indian dish, Aloo Gobi, potatoes and cauliflower are cooked in fragrant, aromatic spices to make an amazing and delicious dish. Another version is this Alu Gobi – Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Green Peas. Tandoori spices make these Tandoori Cauliflower Lettuce Wraps filled with flavor. Other Indian dishes include this Methi Gobi Indian Style Cauliflower with Ginger and Fenugreek, Chile-Garlic Potatoes and Cauliflower with Turmeric, Curry Spice Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas, and this Black Chana Vedic Curry.
8. Cauliflower Asian-Style
Cauliflower is not the vegetable commonly used in Chinese dishes but it should be. The florets give you a crunchy, chewy texture and are amazing covered in the flavorful sauces. This Cauliflower Manchurian is a fusion of Chinese and Indian flavors. Cauliflower can stand in for chicken or tofu in dishes like this Orange Cauliflower and Sweet and Sour Cauliflower. There’s no lack of color in this dish of Purple Cauliflower Thai Green Coconut Curry with Carrot Noodles.
9. Global Flavors
When you cook with cauliflower, you can use different ethnic flavor profiles to travel the world without ever leaving the kitchen. We already talked about Asian, Jamaican, and Indian cuisine. Travel to Italy with this vegan “hunter’s stew” of Cauliflower Cacciatore and this beautiful Cauliflower Piccata. Add it to the Best 9 Vegetable Lasagna Ever. Mexican and Indian flavors fuse in these Sweet and Spicy Lentil Dal Tacos while Spanish flavors are used in this Simple Roasted Cauliflower with Chipotle and Lime. Every day can be Mardi Gras when you make this vegan version of a Cajun favorite – Cauliflower Etouffee with Andouille. You’ll never think okra is slimy again after eating this Crispy Spiced Cauliflower and Okra dish.
10. Snacks, Starters and Sides
Adding cauliflower to any side dish makes it healthier and heartier. This Cauliflower Wild Rice Pilaf is delicious and dramatic. Cauliflower is just one of the ingredients used to make these Pumpkin Seed Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms and this Roasted Buddha Bowl. These Healthy Baked Vegan Pakoras are a healthier way to enjoy a favorite Indian snack. Making pizza crust out of cauliflower like this Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Black Mung Bean Curry is sure to impress everyone and have them begging for seconds. If you serve these fried Cauliflower Crisps with Tangy Tahini Dressing, you had better make a lot because they will disappear before your eyes. If you have never heard of eating cauliflower for dessert, listen up because this Cheesy Cauliflower Popcorn is incredible. Wow! With all the awesome dishes you can make with cauliflower, it’s a wonder it took us all this long to catch on. Now that we know that cauliflower is the “it” vegetable of the times, what will you make with it? Let us know in the comments. Lead Image Photo: Cauliflower Cacciatore