Cauliflower: Rediscovering a Nutritional Dynamo

Cauliflower gets a bad rap. It never seems to be flavour of the moment, or the hip new ingredient. We barely recognise when it’s in or out of season, and I very much doubt it’s made an appearance at many people’s latest dinner party. We all remember it being hidden under mountains of cheese and white sauce as a child, for that heavenly comfort food cauliflower cheese. But there is a lot more to this veggie than just a side dish.

It’s cheap.

AND delicious.

And versatile.

AND amazingly good for you.

Goooooo CAULIFLOWER!

And come on, cauliflower ears? That’s just rude.

NO really. I don’t rock around in one of these bad boys , but I really think it’s worth bringing this cruciferous plant back into rotation. Often overlooked for its cooler relation, broccoli, cauliflower is a shoot from a flower; while broccoli opens into sprouting florets, cauliflower is the underdeveloped closed buds. Introduced to Europe by the Spanish Moors, who themselves found it in the Arab world.

Anyway, cauliflower (Brassica Oleracea) is a nutritionally dense little nugget. It actually comes in as one of the Worlds Healthiest Foods with one cup rating at almost 100% of our RDI of Vitamin C, and *little me fact* as I do not really care for oranges this makes me very happy. Cauliflower is also very high in Dietary Fibre, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate and Potassium. It is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

An important thing to remember is these nutrients can be lost in cooking, and RAW cauliflower contains 20% more Vitamin C than cooked. Think about a little crudités of cauli with some Italian dipping sauce, bagna cauda, or a little 70’s style fondue or just in your mouth as a nutrient packed snack.

Cooking wise, you have to treat them with some respect. Like any vegetable, simply shoving them in a pot of water for an indiscriminate amount of time is just rude. All the vitamins end up in the water! (according to my mother..) Steaming, lightly stir frying or even microwaving with a little splash o water will keep all those vitamins within the vegetable and stop them from getting water logged and mooshy.

It also keeps well for about a few days, but again, be gentle. Don’t wrap it tightly in plastic to let it sweat itself into a slimy garbage grave. Leave the bag open, or with holes. If you are like me, with an aversion to those small bags supermarkets give you for vegetables, grab some paper or a paper bag.

And don’t be wasteful- I like to use the florets as well as the thicker stems. The stems need to be chopped and keep in mind their cooking time when chopping. Smaller pieces will cook quicker!

Cauliflower is in season now!

This curry is so quick, uses pantry staples and if you’re lucky and get the canned goods on sale (woo!) this could be one cheap meal.

Until I can visit Margretville, USA, for the Annual Cauliflower Festival I will leave you with a little something from Mark Twain, which to be honest makes little sense.

“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” – Mark Twain

Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

What a sexy vegie
(adapted from Delicious Magazine)

Ingredients (serves 4)

•2 tsp olive oil
•1 onion, finely chopped
•2 cloves of garlic
•2 tbs medium-hot curry paste (add more or chose a hotter variety if you like more heat)
•400g can chopped tomatoes
•1 1/2 cups (375ml) salt-reduced vegetable stock
•1/2 large cauliflower (about 500g), trimmed, cut into florets
•400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
•200g frozen peas
•2 cups steamed rice (I use brown rice, for the extra flavour)
•low-fat natural yoghurt to serve
Heat oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and gently sweat for 4 or 5 minutes, until soft. Add curry paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock, stir until boiling then cook gently simmering for another two minutes.

Add cauliflower and chickpeas simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas simmer for a further 3 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Season to taste.

Serve with the cooked rice, and a little of the yogurt.

Inspired?

Try these other jolly-colly recipes:

Jamie Olivers Incredible Baked Cauliflower and Broccoli Canneloni

La Tartine Gourmands beautiful Gratin

Or in the mood for a bit of artwork..?

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