The Consummate Crucifer for a Creative Cook
As a young child, we were delighted anytime that Grandma Scamper made cauliflower. She breaded it. She made a cauliflower casserole and she roasted it to perfection. That woman was ahead of her time. Today, anyone looking to avoid excess carbs inevitably turns to cauliflower at some point.
Cauliflower has suffered a bum rap. Sure it smells when you start to cook it but don’t let that fool you. It’s sweet and delicious and it can definitely fool you.
Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”
If you’re turning up your nose we get it. Lousy healthy substitutes for well-known favorites, generally stink. Give this a try though. It’s really good.
Boil or steam a head of cauliflower until it’s soft. Some people may give you some ideal time but in all honesty we boil it for about 15 minutes and forget about it. Then we poke it. If a knife or fork pierces it easily, it’s fine.
Most people add a Tbsp of fat. Butter, low fat cream cheese, even the drippings from a meat that you may be cooking. Turkey or chicken preferably.
Some people like to add a splash of milk.
Most people also use about 1/4 c of ricotta or Parmesan in addition to the fat. Skim or whole.
Nuts have become a popular addition lately too.
(Here’s our 2 cents on that one. Nuts pack in a whole lot of calories and you’re probably switching out the potatoes for a better bikini bod. Don’t let anyone fool you. Unless you are a naturally thin vegetarian under 45 or a marathon runner, lay off the nuts.)
Patty Perfect swears that she doesn’t add a thing and substitutes it for mashed potatoes at thanksgiving.
All you have to do is drop it all into a Cuisinart and press pulse. Don’t just hit purée and walk away. You’ll liquefy the bottom and the top will be chunky. You want it to be smooth. Add a bit at a time. When it’s whipped up, serve it.
Word of caution- some recipes will say add sour cream. Bad idea. It gets liquidy and sour. Yuck.
Fresh cauliflower comes in microwaveable steam bags now. You can pop one of those guys into the microwave for 4 min instead of cutting it up and steaming it from scratch.
Then coat a cooking pan with oil. Spray or olive. Bake on 350 for about 30-40 min. Check it. When it’s golden, so are you.
Some people say 450 for 25 min. We do this regularly and find that lower heat for a little longer just tastes better.
We only add salt but feel free to add cheese, garlic,spices . Whatever you like. Just check it a little more frequently and flip it or stir it. Garlic and cheese will burn if you don’t.
Baked and Breaded
Steam or boil the separated florets. Then dip them in egg.
Follow that with a roll in a dish of bread crumbs. Add spices and or Parmesan if you like that. Bake them on a cookie sheet for about 30 min. Or until they start brown. People who swear that they hate cauliflower frequently scarf them down before the leave the kitchen.
Alternatively, you can batter and fry them.
The latest fad is a buffalo batter that’s baked. Basically, instead of the bread crumbs and egg.
- Mix 3/4 c flour
- 1 c water
- A dash of garlic powder
- Salt & pepper
- To make a batter. Dip and bake
- About 10 min before you take them out drip or brush them with a mixture of
- Hot sauce 1/2 c. Aprox
- Honey 1-2 tsp
- And melted butter 1-2 Tbsp
You may want to use a blue cheese dip
Many people are also dipping it in batter, baking it and using Chinese style sauces instead of take out.
You can buy it pre-riced at whole foods or you can grind it (raw) into even bits in a food processor. Either sauté or roast it until it’s soft, not mushy. Sautéing in a wok is easy and then you can add ingredients.
Scallions, egg, onions, carrots, ginger,a dash of brown sugar, shrimp ,soy sauce and use sesame oil instead of olive. Sauté the other ingredients first. Throw them in as you sauté the C. Rice
Chicken flavored. Just add chicken with or without some vegetables
Use it as you would regular rice. It’s a great texture and can be flavored with ease. If you eat it right away you could forget that it’s cauliflower. The next day, it’s more noticeably cauliflower.
Just like the soups that we’ve discussed before, this is super easy and super tasty
Break up the cauliflower and throw it in a pot.
Most people add sautéed leaks and garlic. But you can add whatever you want. The only word of caution is that if you care about color for presentation, don’t start adding things like carrots. It’s most appetizing when it’s white. (we feel funny about saying that lately, but you get the point)
Cover the ingredients with chicken or veg stock and simmer for 1/2 hr or until the cauliflower is soft.
Purée and serve.
Traditionally chives are used as a garnish.
And now for our favorite…
Grandma Scamper’s Cauliflower Casserole …yum!
- 1-2 heads of cauliflower
- Bread crumbs
- American cheese (you can use any sliced cheese)
- Boil or steam the cauliflower florets until soft.
- Take a Pyrex bowl or casserole dish. Spread the soft florets around the bottom of the dish in a single thin layer.
- Cover them with a layer of ricotta. Then shake on a layer of bread crumbs. Cover with a slice or 2 of American cheese. Don’t go crazy, it’s not a blob of melted cheese.
- Repeat the layers to the top of the dish. The final layer should be the slices of cheese, just because it looks better.
- Bake it at 350 for about 30 min. Let the top start to brown but not crunchy.
Even uber picky Brother Scamper loved this one.
These are our favorites. Try them. Then look around and explore. People are using cauliflower to make sandwich bread, tortillas and who knows what else. You will be surprised and delighted.
Enjoy your cauliflower