It can be hard to always eat your vegetables, especially ones that are pretty bland on their own. When I was seven years old, cauliflower was one of those vegetables I just never liked. It's not sweet like carrots (my favorite veggies), it's a little mushy and let's face it, it really doesn't have that much flavor on its own. But, with a few spices and different ways of preparing it, you can transform plain old cauliflower into something quite scrumptious.
Here are five ways to improve cauliflower. Trust me, even your kids might reconsider eating the white florets with their dinner.
5. Cauliflower Puree
Steaming or boiling cauliflower and pureeing it into what looks like mashed potatoes is a great way to transform this bland vegetable. I like to use orange cauliflower because it makes the puree a bit more appealing than just white mush. If you're cooking for your kids it might be fun to puree some purple cauliflower; it'll make them feel like they are playing with their food.
When you puree the mixture, toss in some butter, salt and cheese to make it extra special. For those of you who don't like the plain taste of cauliflower, blend the cauliflower with potatoes; it is a great way to ease yourself into eating pureed cauliflower. Serve this puree alongside meatloaf, chicken or even scallops.
4. Cauliflower & Spinach Dip
Trade out the artichokes for cauliflower and make a dip. Start by steaming two or three cups of cauliflower until softened and pureeing it in a bowl. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt), a splash of heavy cream and lots and lots of cheese. Cheddar Jack and Parmesan cheese work really well in this dip; you can also blend goat cheese or blue cheese for more of a zip in each bite. Once you have pureed all of these ingredients together, season with salt and pepper, then puree about six ounces of fresh spinach. Bake the dip in a 375-degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until the edges start to brown and the dip starts to bubble. This is perfect for game days (about to start soon), or just whenever you have friends over. Scoop up the cheesy cauliflower-spinach dip with tortilla chips, pita chips or carrot sticks.
3. Cauliflower Steaks
OK, these aren't actual steaks, but they are still quite tasty. Slice the cauliflower florets length-wise so you have a "steak" cut of a cauliflower head. Sear each cauliflower steak in a skillet with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then stick the pan in the oven to finish cooking. Top the cauliflower steaks with an olive relish or other Mediterranean flavors like capers and lemon juice. The cauliflower will also get a nice caramelization on the edges when it roasts in the oven.
2. Cauliflower Soup
Use the same idea of caramelizing the cauliflower in the oven, but turn it into a rich, creamy soup afterward. Roast the cauliflower in the oven with seasonings like nutmeg, salt, pepper, olive oil, coriander, turmeric and cumin. Once it roasts in the oven for about 40 minutes, the cauliflower should start to brown and caramelize. Add the cauliflower to a vegetable broth with your favorite ingredients, like garlic, shallots, thyme, oregano and bay leaves, then use a stick blender to puree the cauliflower with the broth. Top with a little bit of olive oil, cracked black pepper and even nuts, like hazelnuts or cashews. Cauliflower just got that much better when you blend it with such wonderful spices and herbs.
1. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
If you're gluten intolerant, then this is right up your alley. If you enjoy a crispy pizza crust, then this is right up your alley, too. Grate cauliflower to make two cups of crumbs, then microwave to soften. Once the cauliflower cools, mix one egg, a cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese, a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Press the mixture out into the shape of a pizza crust, spray it with olive oil, then bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take the crust out of the oven, top with your choice of toppings and pizza sauce, then bake for another 10 minutes. It's crispy, cheesy and a healthy alternative to regular pizza crust.
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