19 New Ways to Cook with Cauliflower

19 New Ways to Cook with Cauliflower
As delicious as it is versatile, add this cruciferous veggie into your cooking rotation this week.

The cruciferous vegetable that was once thought of as somewhat flavorless has been making a comeback. I’m talking about cauliflower and some people are calling it the new kale. No longer relegated to vegetable trays, cauliflower has been steadily increasing its appearance in recipes, and often in unexpected ways. Which is good news because cauliflower is a nutritious addition to any diet. Just one serving of cauliflower contains 91.5 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C!

Cauliflower is also full of the sulfur-containing phytonutrients, glucosinolate and thiocyanate, that cleanse the body of free radicals. Studies have shown that eating three to five servings of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower each week can lower the risk of several types of cancer.

Beyond the health benefits, cauliflower can be wildly delicious—plus, it’s incredibly versatile. Let’s take a closer look at this nutritional powerhouse.

Buying, Cleaning & Storing Cauliflower

White cauliflower is the most readily available in grocery stores, but there are many different varieties to choose from including green, orange and purple. Each variety has it’s own flavor. For instance, green cauliflower—a cross between cauliflower and broccoli—tastes sweeter than white cauliflower when raw but more like broccoli when steamed. The purple cauliflower has a more mild flavor and cooks much faster than white.

When purchasing cauliflower, look for clean, compact florets in which the bud clusters have not separated. Choose heads that are surrounded by thick, crisp green leaves as the leaves help to protect the cauliflower buds and help keep them fresher. With cauliflower, size doesn’t affect the quality of the vegetable so choose the one that best suits the recipe. Store uncooked cauliflower in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator. To prevent excess moisture in the florets, store it with the stalk side down.

To prep cauliflower, first remove the outer green leaves. Next, turn the cauliflower over and carefully remove the florets at the base of the stalk. Be sure to trim away any brown coloration that may exist on the edges. Once the florets are removed from the stalk, you can further cut them into smaller pieces if desired.

Cooking Cauliflower

Cauliflower makes an excellent blank canvas. It soaks up flavors much in the same way eggplant or tofu does, but it remains much firmer. This makes cauliflower perfect for a variety of cooking methods. You’ll want to avoid cooking cauliflower in aluminum or iron pots. The chemical compounds in cauliflower react with the aluminum, causing the vegetable to turn yellow. Iron pots turn cauliflower brown or blue-green.

Here are a few ways to get cooking with cauliflower.

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice has grown in popularity among more people who are looking for a lighter alternative to traditionally heavy starches. Like rice, cauliflower rice is the perfect vehicle for herbs and spices and can be used in replace of the rice grain in almost any dish. It’s also a great way to sneak more servings of vegetables into your diet. Making cauliflower rice couldn’t be easier either, all you need is a box grater and a skillet.

Ingredients

  • 1 large or medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Wash and cut cauliflower into large sections.
  2. Using a box grater, grate cauliflower into rice-size pieces using the medium-size holes.
  3. Place grated cauliflower onto a clean, dry towel or paper towel and press to remove excess liquid. This will prevent your rice from being too soggy.
  4. Add rice to a pre-heated skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Add seasonings as desired.

The cauliflower rice is now ready. Use it in recipes that call for rice. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a very basic recipe. Use it as a foundation for adding other herbs and spices based on the recipes and personal preference.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2

Much like cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower has become more popular in recent years. While mashed cauliflower is not the same as mashed potatoes, it’s delicious in its own right. It’s easy to make and can come together quickly, making it a perfect dish for busy weekday meals. This basic recipe for mashed cauliflower is just a starting point. Feel free to add oil or spices based on your taste preferences. Experiment!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium or large head of cauliflower
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Directions for the Boiling Method

  1. Wash and roughly chop cauliflower into similar size pieces.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add the cauliflower florets.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is fork tender.

Directions for the Steaming Method

  1. Wash and roughly chop cauliflower into similar size pieces.
  2. Fill a saucepan or pot with an inch or two of water and insert a steamer basket. Bring the water to boil, add the cauliflower florets.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, allowing the cauliflower to steam until fork tender.

Once the cauliflower is tender, put it in a food processor. Add salt, pepper and any desired additional spices, and pulse until smooth. If you don’t own a food processor, no worries! Simply use a potato masher. Or, if you don’t own a potato masher, a simple fork will work just as well.

Here are a few other mashed cauliflower recipes to inspire you:

More Creative Cauliflower Recipes to Try

Cauliflower is so versatile I could never cover every cooking method in one article. Here are a few recipes that put cauliflower front and center in really unexpected ways.

This post originally appeared on Care2.com.