Pumpkins are popping up everywhere, but for me, October is their proper month. In these waning days of September I prefer to think about a favorite vegetable that gets very little attention: the cauliflower.
Broccoli is touted as a powerhouse vegetable, which is appropriate because it has so many nutrients. But cauliflower also is a member of the mustard family and has many of the same vitamins and minerals.
Cauliflower translates from Latin as “flowers of cabbage,” probably because its outer leaves resemble a cabbage. When it is fully grown, the handsome heads are full of florets, usually white but sometimes orange, green or purple.
By nature, cauliflower is a cool-weather crop, so we can look for it again in our local farmers markets, which seem to have something new every week.
Some years ago the white variety of cauliflower got a surge of attention when an enterprising chef figured out how to make the cooked florets into a mashed potato substitute. People must like it because you can still find mashed cauliflower in the freezer section of the supermarket.
Another unlikely use was when they started showing up as a main ingredient in gluten-free pizza crusts. I tried one and it tasted fine, adding to the vegetable’s versatility. More than just a side dish it can be the main ingredient in soups and casseroles and can be roasted and eaten as a low-calorie substitute for chicken wings.
While cauliflower doesn’t get as much attention as its biological cousin broccoli, it is still packed with nutrition. It’s an outstanding source of potassium and vitamin C, has virtually no fat and only 146 calories in a medium head.
If you want to try making mashed cauliflower, try this recipe from allrecipes.com:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Place a steamer insert into a saucepan; fill with water just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil; add cauliflower, cover, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Transfer half of the cauliflower to a food processor; cover and blend on high. Add remaining cauliflower florets, one at a time, until vegetables are creamy. Blend in cooked garlic, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, and black pepper.