Cauliflower has been called one of the trendiest vegetables of 2014. Epicurious magazine called it the vegetable of 2013, so I guess it’s having a good run of popularity. The only reason I know this is because I’m wrapped up in the great big food blogosphere and keep track of these things.
I can honestly say I eat more cauliflower now than I ever did (not to be trendy–I know how to cook it now). I eat it in soups, like this roasted cauliflower soup. Its great mashed or in curries too, but cauliflower is at its best simply roasted with a dusting of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. I like cutting it in great big slabs before throwing it in the oven. It’s easy to do and so addicting, I’ve been guilty of eating it with my fingers while standing in the kitchen.
You can serve roasted cauliflower as an easy side dish with just about anything. It’s a great substitute for starchy potatoes and pairs well with both seafood and red meats. It also makes a great main dish, especially thick-cut and served as a “steak”. The nutty/sweet flavor it acquires from roasting is completely different than the tasteless, limply-steamed versions served up in restaurants around the country. If you passed on cauliflower before, this recipe will make you a believer.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 190° C
Wash and dry the cauliflower head. Using a large knife, slice through the entire cauliflower to make 1-inch thick slices. The ends will crumble into florets, but you should get 2-4 intact slices. Lay the slices and florets on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and optional spices. Turn cauliflower to coat in oil, seasoning both sides.
Place into preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven when the cauliflower is browned and the stems are easily pierced with a fork.
I’m a sucker for cauliflower. When I see this imposing veggie in the supermarket, I grab it. If you don’t have a go-to recipe, buying a cauliflower head is a big commitment. It’s a lot of vegetable. My favorite way to prepare cauliflower is in a soup, like this roasted cauliflower and almond soup.
I came up with this recipe for cauliflower and wild rice chowder during one of our short Miami cold spells (consisting of 2 days in December in the low 70’s). I broke out my boots and we headed out into the sun, reveling in the cool breezes.
My son, who just turned one, was on a two-week food strike of sorts. He refused to eat anything on a spoon, which made feeding him a little difficult. After trying every sort of adult food and baby food (I make some pretty good baby food), he finally opened his mouth wide for cauliflower and wild rice, of all things.
Now I feel deep gratitude for my friend, the cauliflower. Covered in cheese, roasted, fried or souped…
Speaking of soup, let me just share with you how good this hearty chowder is. It is creamy and rich, with soft bits of cauliflower and slightly chewy wild rice. The nuttiness of the rice works with the sweet/nutty cauliflower and the contrasting colors are fun on your spoon. Its home cooking. It’s good. I like to eat a bowl with some crusty bread slathered with sweet butter, stopping to sop up the soup with the bread in-between spoonfuls. Soup day is a good day around here.
In a large saucepan, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until soft, but not brown. Add the broth, wild rice bay leaf and cumin (if using). Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
Add the cauliflower to the pot and continue to cook, covered, for another 20 minutes.
While the pot is simmering, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir on low heat, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and cream. Whisk until it just comes to a simmer, then add to the cauliflower mixture. Season to taste with salt and plenty of fresh pepper.
When I think of cauliflower dishes, I think of curries. Spicy curried cauliflower with tomatoes and coriander is one of my favorites. I actually prefer cauliflower to its more cabbage-y cousin, broccoli. It’s delicious and nutty when roasted, and I often use it in soups. I’m eager to try it in shaved in a salad (any recipes out there?). Cauliflower has a presence lacking in many veggies. There’s just something about it that makes me pause and consider before diving in.
This roasted cauliflower and almond soup is creamy and comforting, punctuated by the warm, earthy taste of cumin and floral coriander. The roasted cauliflower pairs beautifully with almonds, and the soup has a velvety, rich texture. You can easily make it vegan by substituting almond milk for the cream.
Epicurious magazine rated cauliflower the front runner vegetable for 2013. Yep. The lowly cauliflower is trendy, and you better start eating it before it becomes passe’. Its’ boring white façade can now be found at your local farmers market in bright purple and orange. No longer smothered in orange cheese, this nubby vegetable is making its way onto some sophisticated plates. Browsing the blogger sphere, I see it fried, pickled, frittered and jerked. It’s a popular substitute for cream, rice, eggs and even mashed potatoes. Endlessly versatile and delicious, cauliflower deserves its place in the spotlight. Now does anyone know where I go to nominate okra for 2014’s vegetable of the year?
If you don’t have heavy cream, a good substitute is sour cream or plain yogurt. Just thin the sour cream or yogurt out with milk and mix into the soup after you have removed the pan from the heat.
To make this recipe vegan, skip the heavy cream altogether and thin the soup with a little bit of unsweetened almond milk at the end.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Drizzle sliced cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of oil and arrange on a large cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 10-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is nicely browned.
Blanch the almonds in boiling water for a few minutes and drain. Rinse under cold water and pop off the skins,
Using a food processor, grind the almonds until they reach the texture of sand.
Saute onion, cumin and coriander in the remaining oil in a large stockpot. When the onion is soft, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the roasted cauliflower, almonds and stock to the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, uncovered.
Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the cauliflower mixture. Add heavy cream and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with slivered almonds.