By Kate Parham
LAST YEAR, EVERYONE was kale crazy.
Kale salads. Kale chips. Kale smoothies.
People went nuts for the leafy superfood, or,
as chef-owner Matthew Kelly of Mateo Tapas
in Durham, North Carolina, calls it, “the hip-
Joining the in crowd this season: cauli-
flower. “Cauliflower can be very luxurious or
rustic,” says Kelly, a Costco member, who
grills cauliflower and serves it in a traditional
tomato sauce at Mateo. “People are treating it
as an integral part of the dish.” Which is no
surprise when you consider the versatility of
the vegetable. Whether you fry it, grill it,
mash it or roast it, the humble cauliflower
should find its way to your table.
Unlike many seasonal vegetables, cauliflower (a member of the brassica family,
which includes broccoli, cabbage, kale and
Brussels sprouts) is available year-round in
most of the U.S. The annual plant populates
by seed, producing a head (the edible portion) closely resembling broccoli, sans the
flower buds. While traditional white cauliflower is most common, adventurous eaters
should keep an eye out for other varieties,
such as ‘White Magic’, ‘Absolute’, ‘Incline’ and
‘Symphony’, which come in colors such as
orange, green and purple.
Cauliflower is low in fat and carbs, and
high in fiber, folic acid and vitamin C. More
good news: Cauliflower contains many can-cer-fighting compounds. In fact, high cauliflower consumption has been linked to lower
risks of breast, prostate and colon cancer.
“When choosing cauliflower at the store,
look for nice white florets, void of dark or
brown spots,” says Sandy Cleary, vice presi-
dent of club stores and alternative channels
for Apio Inc., a Costco supplier. Heads sur-
rounded by green leaves are often fresher
because of the protection. Size does not
denote quality, although avoiding small flo-
rets is recommended.
Important to note: Buying bags of florets
is an efficient choice. Not only is the cauliflower pre-cut, pre-washed and ready to use,
but by providing only the florets, the supplier
can compost the core and leaves rather than
throwing them out, which is great for the
planet, explains Cleary. Keep in mind that one
whole head of cauliflower is equal to 1 pound
of pre-cut florets.
Cauliflower is best stored refrigerated ( 34
to 36 F) in a closed container, says Cleary.
Fresh heads can remain fresh for up to a week,
while pre-cut florets should be eaten within a
couple of days. If you’re unable to go through
the entire bag before it expires, simply blanch
the remaining florets and freeze them for
later, suggests Cleary. “We recommend using
the frozen florets within a year of freezing for
the best flavor and texture.”
If you’re working with a whole head of
cauliflower, remove the outer leaves and thick
stalk and cut the florets into uniformly sized
pieces to ensure even cooking. You can eat the
florets raw or cook them. The most popular
cooking method is roasting, which brings out
the nutty flavor of the cauliflower, says Cleary,
who suggests adding extras such as garlic, pine
nuts and Parmesan cheese.
Cauliflower is often used as a substitute for
potatoes and rice, as it has a similar texture, but
without the starch. Try adding cooked florets
to mashed potatoes, or swapping out flour for
mashed cauliflower in pizza crust. Boiling cauliflower can make it mushy and flavorless, not
to mention devoid of nutrients, so don’t be
afraid to get creative with new techniques. C
Kate Parham is an Atlanta-based food, wine
and travel writer and recipe developer for
more than 65 publications.
a nutritional punch
The Costco Connection
Pre-cut, pre-washed cauliflower florets can
be found in the produce section of most
; Canadian Cauliflower Cheddar Cups
12 slices Canadian bacon
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon green onion
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Very lightly grease a
12-cup mini-muffin pan. Line each cup with
a slice of Canadian bacon. On the stovetop,
steam cauliflower until very soft. Transfer
cauliflower to a bowl and mash it. Add sour
cream, parsley, green onion, and salt and
pepper to taste, and mix well.
Fill Canadian bacon cups with cauliflower
mixture. Top each cup with cheddar cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 12 mini-cups.
for your table