Learning how to cook cauliflower can add a multitude of dishes to your repertoire, some quite surprising. However, don't forget that you can eat raw cauliflower! It has a slightly sweet taste to it.
When you consider a serving of this vegetable can supply around 75% of your daily total Vitamin C requirement it is certainly worth including in your menu. It even adds to your protein intake.
My husband always claimed he didn't like cauliflower - his mother boiled it until it was soggy and watery which put him off. But I have been able to turn him around by cooking it in different ways. I will start with one of his NOW favourites, roasted cauliflower.
Preheat your oven to 180oC, 350oF or Gas mark 4.
Take your cauliflower and remove the leaves. Then slice it across into slabs. If you wish, you can trim out some of the stem, but I like to leave it in.
Drizzle olive oil on a baking tray, then arrange the cauliflower on top and drizzle more oil on top. Season with salt and pepper. Peel the cloves of garlic, but don't chop it. Add these in between the cauliflower slices.
You can add grated parmesan on top. A friend of mine likes grated mozzarella in place of the parmesan.
You can see from the photograph below that I sprinkled paprika over mine. Other spices to use with cauliflower include ground coriander or nutmeg. Ground caraway or fennel seeds will add to the flavour while also helping to dispel wind.
Place the tray in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. I like to turn over the cauliflower about halfway through, so that both sides get caramelised.
You can either serve the garlic cloves with the dish or discard them, its your preference.
Why not throw in a few pine nuts when roasting your cauliflower to add some extra crunch. Or sprinkle some chopped parsley over the top to serve.
You can add your roasted cauliflower to pasta or pop some in a Spanish omelette or frittata.
Another simple recipe to try when you are learning how to cook cauliflower is this variation on cauliflower cheese. It is baked in the oven with a crunchy topping.
Preheat the oven to 190oC, 375oF or Gas mark 5.
Grease an oven proof baking dish. Break the cauliflower into small florets.
Bring salted water to the boil in a large saucepan, then add the florets and cook for 10 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
Mash or blend in a food processor or liquidizer if you have one to create a puree.
In a small saucepan, melt the margarine. Then add the flour and stir over a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in a little of the milk slowly, mixing as you do this to avoid any lumps. Then add the rest of the milk and put the pan back on the heat. Simmer for 3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Grate some nutmeg over the top and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Beat in the egg.
Add the pureed cauliflower to the pan and mix well. Pour in the cream and add half the grated cheese.
Pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, then the remaining cheese over that. If you wish you can drizzle with a little melted margarine or olive oil.
Cook for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
Instead of the dried breadcrumbs you could use crushed cereals such as bran flakes. You could also substitute them for oats. Neither of these options should be used if you have to follow a gluten free diet, however.
Instead of grated cheddar cheese you could use parmesan.
Separate the cauliflower florets, saving the outside leaves for stock making. Save a few florets of cauliflower for garnishing the top of your soup. Chop the onion and garlic, finely.
Sauté the vegetables in the butter on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until soft, then remove the vegetables from the pan and keep to one side.
Form a "roux" by combining the butter and the flour. Add the stock, slowly, allowing the roux to combine, in between each addition. Cook gently for one to two minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the vegetables and stir throughly. Return the pan to the heat, and add the milk. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes then taste and adjust. Place a reserved cauliflower floret on top of each portion.
Cauliflower cheese is a favourite so why not make a cheesy cauliflower soup? You can use cheddar, or a blue cheese such as Stilton if you want a little more flavour. Grate the cheese and add it when you add the milk. Continue simmering until the cheese melts into the soup. Ummmmm!
You might also like to add a pinch of cayenne pepper to your soup, to give it a little bite.
No page on how to cook cauliflower would be complete without a mention of this speedy alternative to cooking long grain rice. With the addition of other vegetables and some spices you can have this healthy fried rice substitute on your plate in under 20 minutes.
A food processor is handy to prepare this but if pushed you could use a cheese grater.
Place the cauliflower florets in your food processor bowl and whizz for around 2 to 3 minutes until the result resembles grains of rice. Don't over blitz it or you will loose all texture.
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly. Gently heat half the oil in a small frying pan then tip in the eggs. Fry this omelette on one side then carefully flip and cook the other side. Slide out onto a plate and cut into strips. Then cut the strips into small sections. Put aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, then add the onions and garlic. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until translucent. Do not let them get brown. Add the carrot, broccoli, peas and sweetcorn and cook until tender, which will take 4-5 minutes.
To complete the dish, add the cauliflower rice, soy sauce mix, and omelette pieces. Cook until the cauliflower is cooked and everything is heated through. This should only take around 4 minutes.
You can cook the cauliflower rice by itself to serve as an accompaniment to a main meal.
This page is only an introduction to learning how to cook cauliflower. I hope it has shown that serving a soggy, boiled pile of this vegetable is not the only way to include it in your meals.
So if you order a home delivery and a cauliflower is substituted instead of another vegetable you won't have any excuses not to use it now.