Cauliflow-power (An Ode to Cauliflower)

Cauliflower is one of those magical veggies not only high in vitamins C and K, but it’s also a good source of folate (an essential nutrient for cell growth, especially during pregnancy). Cauliflower is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in sodium. A one-cup serving contains only 25 calories! I find that it’s filling and really versatile.

Finding new ways to sneak veggies into your meals is key to a healthy and well-balanced diet (hello, six-layer chocolate cake!). I like having roasted cauliflower prepped at the beginning of the week and I can usually find ways to incorporate it into my meals. I’ve got two recipes for cauliflower side dishes to help you incorporate cauliflower into your menu. Since cauliflower can really range in size, the recipes below are assuming you’re dealing with a medium sized cauliflower, about the size of a dodge ball (is that a thing?).

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower
This is pretty straightforward… but if you’ve never tried cooking cauliflower in coconut oil, you’re in for a treat! (serves 3-4)

Take one head of cauliflower and cut it in half. Using the tip of your knife, cut each smaller stem away from the cauliflower core. Cut the bigger pieces at a flat angle so they can lay on the baking tray (see photo). 

Toss the cauliflower in 1 ½ Tablespoons of melted coconut oil (or more, depending on how big your cauliflower is) until they are all nicely coated. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste), a generous serving of fresh ground pepper, and ½ to 1 teaspoon (depending on your heat tolerance) of crushed red pepper (chili flake). Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cauliflower should be browning. Any of those big pieces should have a nice brown crispy layer, similar to a ‘sear’ on meat. That’s the good stuff! (Don’t be afraid to ‘flirt with the burn’ on your cauliflower. It’s a veggie that can take a lot of heat and cook for a long time to become nice and soft!)

You can serve just like this or toss in some baby kale or spinach for its last minute of cooking. Let the heat from the cauliflower wilt the greens. Season to taste and serve with just about anything!  

Cauliflower Purée
This recipe is a bit more involved than just oven roasted, but you won’t regret the extra steps. You’ll need some kind of blender (immersion or table-top) to make the purée. (serves 6-8 people) 

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter 
1 yellow onion, julienne (sliced) 
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 medium heads of cauliflower, cut into thumb-sized pieces (discard leaves and core) 
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup white wine 
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or more)
Immersion blender or other blending device. 

Melt butter and olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 90 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt and turn the heat up to medium high. Add 1 cup of white wine (it should simmer right away if your pan is hot enough). Add the cauliflower and let the wine reduce by half (usually about 3 minutes). Add the stock and stir the cauliflower around. (Your liquid shouldn’t quite cover the cauliflower. By stirring, you’re able to make sure all the cauliflower is getting submerged.) Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. You want your cauliflower to be soft to the touch, which should be about 15-20 minutes of cooking. When the cauliflower is about three-quarters of the way there (test it by touching it or using a fork to see if it releases easily), add the cream and cook for another 5-8 minutes. By now, your cauliflower should be nice and soft. 

I recommend using an immersion blender for ease but using a VitaMix or Blendtec blender would produce a smoother purée. If you are going to use a table-top blender, I recommend doing it in small batches, and remember that the heat/steam from the mixture will want to make the lid pop off! Be sure to place a towel over the blender and always start on low. Find me sometime and I’ll tell you what happens when you DON’T do this! 

Blend the cauliflower mixture. You can add more stock if it’s too thick (or water, too) and then season to taste. 

Serve with veggies and protein piled right on top of it! (See picture.) You can add a swirl of olive oil around the side of the plate, too. It adds a nice mouthfeel and colour contrast. Enjoy!