The Curious Cook’s Guide to Cauliflower Recipes

With all of the medical buzz about cruciferous vegetables these days, it’s no wonder people are searching for ways to celebrate the numerous cancer-fighting and other health benefits of cauliflower. The best way to do this is to get your hands on as many great cauliflower recipes as you can. From the Middle East to Mumbai, many international cuisines incorporate this vegetable on a regular basis. Bonus? As cheap food goes, this stuff stuff is definitely affordable.  Following are some of the most popular categories of cauliflower recipes.

HOW TO COOK CAULIFLOWER

If you’re new to the cruciferous game, then you may be wondering just how to cook cauliflower. The truth is there are many ways to prepare it, and they relate directly to the various categories of cauliflower recipes covered here. Steaming, frying, mashing and roasting are ways of preparing this cruciferous cancer fighter, and great examples exist for each.

Mashed cauliflower recipes are popular with traditional eaters trying to reduce carbs.

This is likely due to the fact that mashed potato and meat meals are familiar to many, and switching to mashed cauliflower leaves only a low-calorie green veggie side dish to be ferreted out in order to have a dinner menu that the entire family will feel comfortable with. This dairy-free recipe for mashed cauliflower is a great resource for those going vegan, as is this mashed cauliflower recipe from the Mayo Clinic.  For those searching out more dairy-based decadence, the Food Network offers these garlic-flavored mock mashed potatoes made with cauliflower.

Looking for cauliflower curry recipes?

Cauliflower curry has taken on a new popularity now that both cauliflower and curry are linked to the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. You can get the kids on board by offering a topping bar of various items like chopped nuts or cilantro. My favorite cauliflower curry recipes include a red lentil and cauliflower curry, a drier gobi masala and this affordable Indian recipe for cauliflower and potatoes.

For my money, roasted cauliflower recipes are where it’s at.

There’s just something about roasted cauliflower that takes this vegetable from so-so to seriously scrumptious. It’s not that I don’t like it in other sorts of recipes. I just absolutely love it in the oven. The roasted cauliflower recipe that made me a convert for life was the cauliflower steaks in Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook, The Kind Diet. They’re simple, succulent and look quite elegant on a plate. I do mine with just a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the baking pan, and some sea salt and black pepper to season them with.

Then I top the baking dish with tin foil to keep the moisture sealed in. If you find them a little tricky to cut into steaks (here’s a cauliflower steak video), you can always just chunk up the head into florets and toss them with the same ingredients to roast that way. You can put them in the oven with other items you are cooking at 375 – 400 degrees, and they’ll be done in thirty to forty minutes, depending on your temperature and the personality of your oven. If you want to get a little fancier, add in some fresh lemon and pressed garlic. Personally, I groove with just the EVOO, salt and pepper. Your call.

Cauliflower casserole may not be the sexiest recipe on the planet, but it sure tastes good.

You can make a cauliflower casserole with other mixed vegetables, or make the cauliflower the feature vegetable. Use this vegetable casserole recipe as a guide. If incorporating the canned soup is too much sodium for you, here’s a fat free cream soup mix you can make in bulk and have on hand for cauliflower casserole night and other necessary occasions. I like that you can use frozen vegetables for this as well, and the fact that you can plug and play to suit your own tastes.

When cold weather strikes, a good cauliflower soup recipe might be just the ticket.

If I’m short on time, I just chop up some fresh cauliflower and throw it in with my regular vegetable-bean soup recipe. It ensures that I’m getting it into my system without having to stop and prepare something complicated. If you feel like getting fancy however, you can try Fat Free Vegan’s roasted cauliflower soup, this cream of cauliflower soup from the Savvy Vegetarian or this curried cauliflower soup from the Vegetarian Times.

Fried cauliflower recipes are just plain yummy.

They’re not the lowest in calories mind you, but they are sure are good. Years ago, there was a restaurant in Maine’s Old Port called Carbur’s. They served the best batter-fried cauliflower, and it was phenomenal with a bit of ranch dressing. While it wouldn’t fit anyone’s definition of diet food, it was an extremely popular menu item even among meat eaters. The restaurant has since closed, but this batter-dipped fried cauliflower from Food.com looks quite similar.

When I lived in the Middle East, I got used to seeing fried cauliflower florets at most of the street-side sandwich shops. I’d order it tucked into my falafel sandwich, or just have some as a snack. This Lebanese cauliflower recipe mimics what I remember very closely. Other fun fried cauliflower recipes out there in internet land include these cauliflower fritters from The Food Doctor and this fried cauliflower and tahini recipe from The Guardian.

CAULIFLOWER RECIPES CAN ALSO BE USED TO CUT CARBS

In fact, one of my favorite wise women, Cindy Ballard, uses cauliflower to cut carbs quite creatively. Grinding it up as a bread crumb replacement in meatloaf, substituting it for rice in stuffed peppers and even making a cauliflower pizza crust are all on her list for creative cauliflower uses.

Clearly, cauliflower recipes don’t have to be boring. From fritters to veggie steaks and stuffed peppers to pizza, there are many creative cauliflower recipes for those looking to increase their cruciferous vegetable intake. Share your ideas below, and feel free to post a recipe link if you’ve got one!

Related Reading: Frozen Broccoli Recipes and Cooking with Collard Greens

Photo Credits: Multicolored Cauliflower image by La Grande Farmers Market, Fried Cauliflower photo by The Italian Voice and Cauliflower Curry picture by Fleskw.

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