Creative cooking with cauliflower

Cauliflower may look and taste bland to some people but, like most vegetables, it is a versatile food that can be prepared in many ways. It can be served raw, boiled, sautéed, mashed, baked, broiled, roasted, fried or steamed, and seasoned with one’s favorite herbs and spices. All it takes is a cook’s creativity to make tasty dishes with this nutritious vegetable.

The idea of putting cauliflower in a sandwich is crazy, but that unconventional creation was served at the San Diego County Fair and it was absolutely delicious! The six-inch long sandwich came with layers of baked cauliflower, Monterey Jack cheese, thin slices of green apple, and arugala, with an aioli and honey spread on slightly sweet, brown bread. The combination sounds odd, but the flavors melded into one tasty bite after another.

It was a more healthy alternative to the typical fried and fatty food found at the fair. Made fresh, it required at least a 10-minute wait but was well worth it. The cauliflower was cooked just right, soft but not mushy, the apple slices added crispness, and no one ingredient overpowered the others. This sandwich proves that even vegetables like cauliflower can make a sandwich delicious.

As a member of the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale, cauliflower is also a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. It is high in vitamins C and K as well as various amounts of choline, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, biotin, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. It also contains some vitamin B2, protein, vitamin B1, niacin, and magnesium.

Because they are high in fiber and are nonstarch vegetables, cauliflower and broccoli are also filling and can help people lose weight. Cauliflower doesn’t have as strong a taste as broccoli so it can be mixed with other foods to add nutritional value for people who don’t like eating vegetables.

Cooked cauliflower can be added to boiled potatoes and mashed together; other ingredients like cheese and garlic can be mixed in to develop the dish’s flavor. Mashed cauliflower by itself is said to taste just like mashed potatoes, but with less fat and fewer carbohydrates.

As nutrients are lost the longer cauliflower is boiled, five or fewer minutes cooking time is recommended. Steaming, microwaving or stir frying are preferable methods of cooking to preserve vegetables’ nutritional value.

For those people who don’t like white vegetables, cauliflower can be found in purple, orange and green varieties, all of which have additional nutrients. The purple ones get their color from the same source as red cabbage and red wine – the antioxidant group anthocyanins.

Orange cauliflower has been found to have 25 percent more vitamin A than white cauliflower, its color coming from extra beta carotene which also makes carrots orange. Green cauliflower, (sometimes called broccoflower since it is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower), has more protein than the white variety and a slightly sweeter taste.

So, the colored cauliflowers not only add color to dishes but also add more nutrition. So, think outside the box and create some tasty, healthy and colorful meals with cauliflower.

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