8 reasons to get excited about cauliflower
The potential of this misunderstood vegetable is virtually endless.
With a face only a mother could love, the cauliflower is that workaday side dish that's been relegated to the far corner of your dinner plate, devoid of flavor, color and texture. But all it takes to turn this relatively bland and slightly homely vegetable into the best meal of your life is a little creativity, and maybe a trip to the grocery store or farmers market. No matter your diet or your family's preferences (picky though they may be!), there's a place in your meal plan for cauliflower, and we've put our Israeli Kitchen bloggers to work to prove it. Here are eight reasons to welcome cauliflower into your diet.
1. It can taste – and look – like mashed potatoes.
Since the dawn of time, parents have been trying – through force, pleading or good old-fashioned bribery – to get their kids to eat their vegetables. Nothing like preparing for battle every night after you've spent your afternoon preparing a nutritious meal, right? Time to try a new tactic – deception. Cauliflower is growing in popularity as an alternative to mashed potatoes, and there's a good reason for that – it looks, tastes and even feels just like it! That's partly due to the mild flavor of the cauliflower. In very little time, it's able to take on the flavors it's cooked in. So go ahead and try it. Lie by omission.
2. It can be roasted whole, like a turkey.
Sit back for a moment and think about why you don't eat more vegetables. Is it because you think it's harder to prepare than meat, poultry or pasta? What if we told you that making cauliflower was as simple as opening your oven and saying "aaaah"? With this recipe by our Israeli Kitchen chef Miriam Kresh, you'll be on your way to hearty, warm, comforting cauliflower roast. Thinking of putting a vegetarian twist on the upcoming holidays? This is a great way to expand your roasting repertoire.
3. It can taste like popcorn.
Popcorn, in all its buttery indulgence, seems to seep out of the walls of movie theaters everywhere. It's so ubiquitous that we probably wouldn't enjoy our movie as much without it. It's also, as we're well aware, grossly devoid of nutritional value. For your next home movie night, we suggest an alternative that's not only more healthful, it's also more sophisticated than shoveling handfuls of popcorn into your mouth. Turn cauliflower into a bright, zesty finger food with this recipe from one of our resident chefs, Sarah Berkowitz.
4. It can be a substitute for rice.
When you're craving grains, look no further than your grocery store's produce section. A simple five-minute process to pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor yields a light, fluffy and surprisingly grain-like consistency that can be incorporated into pretty much anything you'd normally cook or serve grains with. Try it in your next salad, and we predict that this will be the healthy-food-in-disguise you'll keep coming back to. Call it rice, call it couscous, call it risotto ... we call it delicious.
5. You can turn it into pizza crust.
Proving that this vegetable really can do anything, behold the cauliflower pizza crust. What you're seeing in that crust is no more than two ingredients: cauliflower and eggs. The process starts out much like the cauliflower rice. After cooking, mix it with eggs until a dough forms, and roll it out. Even easier than traditional dough! If you're feeling really ambitious, you can even turn pizza night into a cauliflower doubleheader – cauliflower in the crust and crumbled cauliflower as topping.
6. You can bake brownies with it.
We've officially reached the height of food trickery with these low-carb, gluten-free cauliflower brownies. You can work this recipe into almost any diet, no matter how restrictive. The recipe's creator, Melissa Sevigny of ibreatheimhungry.com, admits this dessert involved a bit of trial and error. The first batch she made tasted, she said, "pretty much what you would imagine cauliflower and chocolate might taste like when mixed together." It was a throwaway, but she didn't give up. She adjusted the recipe a little and came up with these rich, crumbly brownies that even her "sworn hater of cauliflower" husband approved. And we think you will, too.
7. It's better than mac and cheese.
We have yet to find a food that isn't enhanced with a little cheese. So the fact that we're touting a recipe that incorporates cauliflower and a tasty combination of Gruyere and parmesan cheeses should surprise no one. If the photo alone doesn't entice you, here's the No. 1 reason you should replace your usual mac and cheese side dish with this cheesy crowd pleaser from our very own Jerry James Stone, an acclaimed vegetarian chef who specializes in using fresh, super-healthy veggies to enhance meals. This less starchy spin on potatoes au gratin once again highlights cauliflower's versatility, but it also shows just how perfectly it pairs with your favorite cheese.
8. You can puree it into creamy, no-fuss soup.
You love a good, creamy soup, but your cheese quota for the week is maxed out (after the aforementioned gratin, of course). This cauliflower soup is enhanced with just the right amount of heavy cream; the rest is pure, unadulterated vegetables, their juices and additional (but subtle) spices carrying this savory dish. If that mid-fall chill in the air is any indication of the months to come, you'll be looking for reasons to stay inside and fill your house with the aromas of warm, comfortable cuisine.
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