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Cooking Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a “blanched vegetable”, one that is covered to guard it from the sun and keep it from making chlorophyll, thus maintaining a milky white color. Modern varieties are self-blanching, meaning that the leaves fold naturally over the developing flower, or curd. Old time farmers often had to tie the leaves over the immature curd to keep out the sun.

Today’s cauliflower can be white, light green (almost chartreuse), or purple. The green variety is actually a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli and is available in some markets under the name ”broccoflower”. This variety is not blanched and is easier to cultivate. It is less aggressive in flavor and has a tendency to cook more quickly than the white. The purple head is delicious in crudités platters, salads, bagna cauda, or other recipes in which it will be used raw, since the purple color disappears if it is cooked, and the flowerets turn dark green.

This is one of those vegetables that has been in American markets only about a hundred years. For some it is an acquired taste, one that becomes palatable only if it is masked with a sauce, most commonly cheese. You rarely see a whole boiled or steamed curd anymore. They were popular twenty five years ago, especially when topped with buttered bread crumbs or a brown butter sauce. A whole cooked cauliflower is still an impressive presentation.

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family, and it offers several health benefits. Cauliflower nutrition including low in sodium and calories, cauliflower contains large amounts of vitamin C and potassium. It is also a good sauce of absorbable calcium and can bolster the calcium intake of people who avoid dairy products.

 

More about cooking with cauliflower


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