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.
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.
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 into 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, grilled, broiled and fried.
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.
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.
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 16 Recipes:
White Bean and Roasted Cauliflower Spread with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts