Whether it’s steamed, baked, puréed, roasted, raw or chargrilled, cauliflower can quickly become a winning weeknight meal.
Cauliflower, now an on trend vegetable, was once the forgotten member of the large family of cruciferous vegetables – no doubt due to countless nightmare encounters with it boiled and lacking pep and punch from the absence of any seasoning.
When treated with a little love and thought, cauliflower can transform into a dream dish that’s full of flavour and interest. Read on for tips on buying, storing and cooking cauliflower.
How to Buy
White cauliflower, with its tightly packed florets and large green leaves, is the most common variety in supermarkets.
Purple head cauliflower and Romanesco cauliflower, also called Roman cauliflower, are also often available at farmers markets. The florets of purple cauliflower are tender, have a very mild flavour and turn green when cooked.
The head of a Romanesco cauliflower is a lime green colour, with many pointed pinnacles at the surface of the head. These heads tend to be somewhat smaller than standard cauliflower heads and the have a mild, nutty taste reminiscent of broccoli.
When buying, look for firm cauliflower with compact florets and crisp, fresh leaves with no blemishes or signs of wilting. White varieties should be very pale, with no dark brown marks. Reject any heads that show signs of softness or blemishes, that’s the start of spoilage. If buying purple or Romanesco cauliflower, they should be uniformly coloured.
How to Store
Though it seems durable, cauliflower can spoil easily. Remove the outer leaves and store heads, unwashed, and tightly wrapped in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to four days.
How to Cook
Cauliflower florets are the ultimate veggie vehicle for cooking for three simple reasons. Firstly, the texture of cauliflower can be manipulated to your liking: you can keep your cauliflower crunchy and clean in salads by finely chopping it and keeping it raw, or creamy and comforting when blended with butter for a smooth purée that goes so well with slow-cooked stews.
Secondly, cauliflower can stand up to rather bold seasoning. It almost begs for it. Toss it with cumin and mustard seeds popped in oil, or stir-fry it with chilli, garlic and a ginger for an Asian twist. Middle Eastern spices like sumac and za’taar do wonders for it too.
The final reason cauliflower is such a great vegetable – it is available all year round, so you have plenty of time to master the art of cooking with it.
Now that you are an expert in the blonde brassica, it’s time to get cooking. Here are two of our favourite cauliflower recipes:
How do you like to cook cauliflower? Show us what you’re cooking by snapping a photo, posting on Instagram and using the tags @smudge_eats and #smudgeeats.