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Cauliflower

Cauliflower

As a pale cousin of broccoli, cauliflower is a tasty and often overlooked ingredient that adds crunch to more meals than you might think.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Cauliflower is a vitamin-C-delivering powerhouse. Two-thirds of a cup, or 85 grams (cooked), gives you about 60 percent of this essential antioxidant, which makes cauliflower an excellent source of vitamin C.
  • This low calorie veggie has just 20 calories per 85 g serving.  Plus it's also a good source of vitamin K,  a nutrient that helps with blood clotting.

History

Cauliflower has appeared in meals for centuries. As a cruciferous vegetable, it belongs in the mustard family. Why is it so white? Unlike its closest vegetable relative, broccoli, cauliflower's central head — called the "curd" — grows enfolded in its large, dark outer leaves. This shades it from the sun, preventing cauliflower curd from forming the chlorophyll that gives many veggies their green tint. You might say that all that separates cauliflower from broccoli is a tan! However, these two tasty veggies also have different flavors, scents and even textures.

Varieties

The main variety of cauliflower is the tried-and-true type, with white, pebbled curd and green outer leaves. However, a more recent addition to the market is the "broccoflower," which is exactly what you'd expect: a cross between cauliflower and broccoli, with a light green curd and a milder taste than cauliflower.

When is Cauliflower in Season?

Curiously, this UV-shunning veggie needs plenty of time in the sun in order to mature. For that reason, cauliflower peaks in autumn.

How to Choose Cauliflower

Choosing good cauliflower is a lot like picking broccoli. A good head of the stuff will be dense, pebbly and creamy white. Avoid cauliflower that has brown, speckled or otherwise discolored curds.

How to Store Cauliflower

Slip it in the crisper of your refrigerator. For optimum flavor, try to eat cauliflower within five days of buying it.

How to Cook with Cauliflower

To prep a head of cauliflower, start by slicing off its thick stem and removing the outer leaves. Next, wash it in cold tap water and then place it whole in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. For a faster cook time, cut the head into florets, which should only take three to five minutes to cook through. Roasting cauliflower in the oven or steaming it can also cut down on cooking time while preserving valuable nutrients. Note: Cauliflower can easily turn yellow in alkaline water or when cooked in an iron or aluminum pot. To keep this veggie snow-white, add a teaspoon of milk or lemon juice to the water before cooking.

Key Measurements

Most recipes call for cauliflower in cups (chopped), individual florets or whole heads.

Substitutions

The smartest swap for cauliflower is broccoflower. If you can't get your hands on this hybrid, then stick to broccoli.

Cauliflower in Recipes

Because it has a different taste and denser curds than broccoli, cauliflower can go in meals that its cousin can't. This Savory Millet and Potato Stew is a good example.

However, cauliflower and broccoli isn't always an either/or situation. Both of them play a role in the hearty summer flavor of this Double-Cheese Chicken and Vegetables bowl.

And then there's the Italian Cauliflower and Broccoli Medley, which is a stripped-down yet surprising mix of the two, complete with Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese.

Related Recipes

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