It used to be that cauliflower was one of those vegetables that never got much attention. It kind of just lingered in the background of the produce section, playing second fiddle to its handsome cousins kale and broccoli.
But today, it seems that this pale member of the cabbage family has finally come into its own. Thanks in no small part to low-carb devotees, these lovely flowering heads are super hot. And with more reasons than ever to incorporate it in our diets, here’s what you need to know.
Originally from the Mediterranean, cauliflower is part of the cabbage family. Comprised of thick stalks and clustered “curds” or “buds,” cauliflower heads are actually immature flower structures. Growers usually shield the curds from the sun to get them as white as possible, but you can also find cauliflower in purple, orange and green colors.
Cauliflower is packed with dietary fiber, folate and vitamin C, and low in calories and carbohydrates. Like other members of the cabbage family, cauliflower is also valued for its cancer-fighting properties. From a cooking perspective, its mild flavor and versatility make it an ideal low-carb substitute for potatoes, grains and even meat. Additionally, the Environmental Working Group ranks cauliflower low on their list of foods with pesticides.
How to eat?
Cauliflower is great raw, or can be cooked in various ways for sides and mains. Because of the bulk it can add to dishes, more modern uses include using it as a low-carb filler in mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, potato pancakes and pizza crust. Similarly, its structure and light texture makes it ideal for mock “rice” pilaf and couscous! Cross-sectional pieces of the heads have even been served as “steaks” for those looking for a meat-like bite of food.
Cauliflower is available year-round in supermarkets, and can be found at farmers’ markets during cold weather months. Choose firm, unblemished cauliflower heads that feel heavy and have fresh looking leaves. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.
With so many great and innovative uses, it’s no wonder cauliflower is finally seeing its hey day. So whether you are looking to lighten up a meal, try something new or wanting to sneak more vegetables into your diet, look to the power of cauliflower.