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Winy’s Kitchen: In Praise of Cauliflower [BLUE ZONES COOKING]

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by Winy Chen [about Winy]

Cauliflower, in the broccoli family, is a low-calorie vegetable that is nearly fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free and an excellent source of vitamin C.  I am on a quest to explore different cauliflower recipes ever since I sampled roasted cauliflower at The Kettle in Manhattan Beach, and my two boys practically ate the whole bowl all by themselves. “Hmm…This could be a great vegetable to add to my kids’ taste palette. I need to find different ways to cook it.”  Cauliflower—it is a sure thing!

Cauliflower belongs to the same family as broccoli. It is a low-calorie vegetable that is nearly fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C.  As a member of the cruciferous family, cauliflower is also known to prevent cancer.

How to select cauliflower: Choose cauliflower with compact, creamy white curds with bright green leaves, firmly attached.  Avoid brown spots or spread out, loose sections.

How to store: Cauliflower can be stored in the refrigerator bin up to 5 days.

Ways to Enjoy Cauliflower:

  • Stir-fry: Sauté cauliflower in garlic and oil along with a medley of other vegetables.
  • Soup: Make cream of cauliflower soup with or without dairy. You can also substitute cauliflower for potatoes as a thickening agent.
  • Mash: Steam cauliflower until tender and cut into small pieces, blending them with low-fat milk, sour cream or yogurt and a little bit of butter.
  • Roast: Roast cauliflower with garlic and olive oil. It is easy and delicious.

Did you know:  Not all cauliflower is white! Try purple and orange cauliflower, too.

Here is my version of roasted cauliflower. It is very simple and I purposely use less oil than many roasted cauliflower recipes call for. A bit of butter goes a long way. It not only flavors the food, but also darkens the crumbs to give the dish a crusty look.  Farm fresh is always better, but to save time in trimming, you may want to use the pre-cut cauliflower that comes in bags.

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of pre-cut cauliflower or 1 head medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper to seasonTopping
  • ½ cup panko breading
  • 2 Tbs. butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
  • Chopped chives for garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the cauliflower florets in a medium roasting pan.

Mix olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle over the cauliflower and mix until well-coated. Add some freshly cracked pepper and salt to season.

In another small bowl, mix together butter and garlic with panko breading. Top cauliflower with mixture.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting.

Serve immediately while warm.

 Several weeks ago, friends and I met at the Hollywood Bowl for Brian Setzer’s concert.  We were all asked to bring a dish to share.  My friend Sharmila introduced us her signature Indian curried cauliflower salad and it was a hit! I asked her if she would mind sharing the recipe and she said YES!  This dish is to die for, and it contains many super foods like curry powder, chickpeas, ginger, lemon juice, and cashew nuts. If you want to learn more about vegetarian Indian cooking, take her class at South Bay Adult School.

Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ¼ tsp. coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp. cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 1 small mango, diced
  • 1 can rinsed chickpeas or about 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ cup roasted cashews
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 3 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. agave or honey
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, curry powder, coriander powder and cumin. Add the florets and toss to coat evenly.

Spread over a baking sheet, making sure not to crowd the cauliflower. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.

While cauliflower is roasting, whisk together oil, agave, lemon juice, and ginger in a large bowl to make a dressing.  Add red pepper, mango, chickpeas, raisins, cashews and cilantro. Toss to coat evenly.  Add cooled cauliflower florets to the salad mix, seasoning with salt. Refrigerate and serve cold.

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