How to Cook Cauliflower

Oh boy, cauliflower’s moment in the sun has some legs!  You can’t open a magazine or walk down the aisles of the supermarket without seeing cauliflower in all sorts of guises, from pizza crusts, to riced cauliflower, to mashed  cauliflower, to cauliflower snacks and crackers.  Entire cookbooks are being written about this vegetable!

But really we know that cauliflower has been around for a very long time, and the fact that it’s “trendy” right now, in part thanks to the attention being paid to low carb eating right now, is kind of neither here nor there.  Yes, it’s featured in all kinds of packaged goods, and yes people are exploring new ways to use it in cooking, but cauliflower is here to stay, and many of us have loved it forever, and will continue to love it even after a new vegetable moves into the “it” produce role.

If you have some questions about how to buy, prepare, and use cauliflower, welcome to Cauliflower 101.

How to Cook Cauliflower

What Is Cauliflower?

Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous family, Brassica oleracea, which includes, broccoli, cauliflower, broccoflower, cabbage and kale.   The name comes from the Italian word cavolfiore, meaning “cabbage flower”.  There are actually hundreds of varieties available worldwide.  It is most commonly available in white, but yellow, purple, orange and green (broccoflower) can also be found, especially at specialty stores and farmers’ markets.

How to Cook Cauliflower

What Does Cauliflower Taste Like?

Cauliflower can be cooked or eaten raw.  It has a slightly nutty, a little cabbage-y, with undertones of sweetness and bitterness, both.  It plays well with a lot of flavors, and can be used in everything from Italian to Indian recipes.  In some cooking methods, like roasting, the sweetness is enhanced.

How Do I Cook Cauliflower?

Cauliflower can be prepared as a whole head, sliced into steaks, cut intro chunks or florets, riced (see below), or more finely chopped into meal, which is often used in preparation like pizza crust and flatbreads.  It can be steamed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, sauteed, grilled, broiled and fried.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tapenade

How Do I Make Cauliflower Rice?

The easiest way to make cauliflower rice is to use the food processor.  You can chop the cauliflower into small pieces, and then pulse it, or drop florets into the feed tube with the motor running, using the shredding or grating attachment.  You can also use the big holes on a handheld grater, if you don’t have a food processor.  Most often this is done before cooking the cauliflower, sometimes after the cauliflower has been steamed, or boiled.

How Much Cauliflower Rice Will Each Head Make?

  • A small head of cauliflower makes about 3 cups of rice.
  • A medium head of cauliflower makes about 4 to 5 cups of rice.
  • A large head of cauliflower makes about 6 cups of rice.

How Do I Know Which Cauliflower to Buy?

Look for cauliflower in the produce aisle, usually near the broccoli.  Look for tight, firm heads with no brown spots.  The heads should feel heavy for their size.  If there are leaves attached, make sure they look fresh and crisp.  Sometimes it’s wrapped in plastic, sometimes it’s just loose – either is fine.

Perfect Simple Roasted Cauliflower

How Do I Store Cauliflower?

Cauliflower can be stored in a plastic bag or in the plastic wrap it came in for up to a week in the refrigerator.  Do not wash until you are ready to prepare it.

When Is Cauliflower in Season?

Cauliflower is in season in fall through mid to late winter, and in some warmer climates the season extends to early spring.

Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots with Olive Drizzle

Is Cauliflower Nutritious?

Cauliflower is super nutritious.  It’s high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, and a good source of folic acids and other minerals.  It is also low in calories; about 30 calories per cup.  It is also very low in carbohydrates, which has contributed to its popularity, and is a good addition to any low carb diet.  Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower are believed to contain compounds that help the body resist certain types of cancer.


Try Cauliflower in these 15 Recipes:

Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Steaks

If you love chicken wings, but can’t justify them as part of the regular rotation OR if you’re a vegetarian missing buffalo wings, this is for you.

Cauliflower Tots

Make caulitots, win over the kids (and yourself), and become a card carrying member of the Cauliflower Fan Club.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tapenade

These cauliflower steaks are tender and caramelized and so satisfying – dolloped with an irresistible salty-savory olive tapenade.

Perfect Simple Roasted Cauliflower

Perfect Simple Roasted Cauliflower

The best way to cook cauliflower, ever. And only 5-minutes of prep time!

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

This salad will make you feel happy making it, happy serving it, and even happier eating it.

Cauliflower with Sesame Drizzle

The hunt for a new and simple side dish is over.

Roasted Cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri sauce turns roasted cauliflower into something special.

Roasted Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Leeks with Spicy Drizzle from Katie Workman / themom100.com

Roasted Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Leeks with Spicy Drizzle

Sriracha sauce, olive oil, and a handful of fresh herbs make a great drizzle for roasted vegetables.

Farro with Grilled Broccoli and Sweet Onions

A simple and highly satisfying side dish.

Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots with Olive Drizzle

Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots with Olive Drizzle

Simply roasted vegetables get a salty pop from an olive dressing.

Braised Cauliflower with Anchovies and Capers / Lucy Beni / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Braised Cauliflower with Anchovies and Capers

Any time capers mingle with anchovies and garlic, I’m happy. This cauliflower dish if both soothing and self-possessed at the same time.

BRAISED CAULIFLOWER WITH GREEN PEPPERCORNS AND MUSTARD SEEDS / Luci Beni / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Sauteed and Braised Cauliflower with Mustard Seeds and Green Peppercorns

Because some of us just love cauliflower (even before it was the "it" vegetable of the moment).

Roasted Cauliflower and Sunchoke Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Sunchoke Soup

This is earth, nutty and warming, with a touch of cream at the end to give it richness.

Moroccan Carrot and Cauliflower Soup

A root vegetable soup gets a Moroccan-spiced twist.

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Spread with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts from Katie Workman/ themom100.com

White Bean and Roasted Cauliflower Spread with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

This earthy autumnal dip (or side dish) make me so happy….and kind of amazingly, my kids liked it, too.

Read More:

Rate & Comment

Your email address will not be published.