What’s in Season: Cauliflower

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What’s in Season: Cauliflower

By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

This fall, welcome cauliflower back into your kitchen: cauliflower.  Distinguished from its mostly green Brassica cousins like Brussels, cabbage, collards, kale, and broccoli, cauliflower is most commonly a creamy white, and is sweet enough to satisfy the starchy component in a meal in both texture and flavor (try our Mashed Cauliflower). Cauliflower is great for absorbing and complementing other flavors, such as curry and other spices, hints of browning from the cast-iron skillet or oven, good-quality olive oil, minced herbs, and chopped toasty nuts. 

Cauliflower is low-carb, low-fat, and offers many nutritional benefits, especially in colored varieties such as orange, which has tons of vitamin A.  If you’re on a health kick, simply wash, core, and trim a head of cauliflower down to its florets to boil or steam with a little salt and pepper. As with all vegetables, steaming retains more nutrients than boiling.

Cauliflower comes in beautiful purples, oranges, yellows, browns, and light greens, (sometimes called broccoflower).  We usually eat the florets, bite-sized pieces from the heads of the plants (called curds), which have been modified to form the tiny, ornamental flowers we know today. Though we have been cultivating this Mediterranean vegetable for centuries, it is still notoriously difficult to grow.  American farmers typically grow Northern European annuals, harvested from summer to late fall.  If you go to a fall or spring farmer’s market, you will likely see green and other colored varieties of mostly Romanesco types, recognizable by their pointy-tipped florets.

In the grocery store, make sure to look for firm, dense heads without spotting, and bright, spritely green leaves (sometimes grocers remove these, but they are protective and are a good freshness indicator).  Cauliflower is best stored in your loosely wrapped refrigerator for about a week.  It can also be blanched and frozen (save the stalks to add a sweet flavor to a vegetable stock).  Some recipes will recommend blanching cauliflower, as in our Marinated Vegetable Salad.

Cauliflower is a great candidate for sautéing, roasting, pickling, incorporating into larger dishes, or serving as part of a vegetable crudité platter with your favorite dip.

For some traditional cauliflower recipes:
Roasted Cauliflower
Leeks and red peppers, onto the baking sheet and into the oven as you make a fast mustard vinaigrette and walk away!

Spicy Penne with Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a great ingredient for pastas and gratins (loves cheese), or for legumes and whole grains like lentils and quinoa!

Cauliflower in soups:
Very Green Soup
Pureed with spinach and garlic – yum!

Apple Cider Butternut Squash Bisque
Featuring a great basic vegetable soup recipe template, with cauliflower or butternut squash as the main ingredient!

For that extra Paula kick, try these original, flavor-popping ideas:

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Grated, cauliflower mixed with egg and cheese forms a tasty, easy, carb-less crust that’s so delicious, you won’t miss the flour!

In Meatloaf
Sauteed and folded into turkey meatloaf!

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