When I think of oft-maligned vegetables, cauliﬂower is one of the ﬁrst to come to mind. But, as I’ve learned in my own quest to embrace cauliﬂower, it turns out that this wonderfully versatile vegetable needn’t be pale nor bland. In fact, while we’re most likely to ﬁnd the more ho-hum white variety of cauliﬂower in our grocery stores, this vegetable grows in a surprising range of bright hues and wild shapes that are more commonly found at local farmers’ markets. Have you been exposed to cauliﬂower’s colorful side yet?
Cauliﬂower’s bright colors come from diﬀerent pigments (phytochemicals) in each variety of the vegetable. White cauliﬂower gets its color (or relative lack thereof) from high levels of anthoxanthin and from the covering provided by the plant’s outer leaves, which protect the curds from sunlight and prevent the development of chlorophyll. Green cauliﬂower, on the other hand, has green curds due to the presence of chlorophyll, while orange cauliﬂower contains reddish beta carotenes, and purple cauliﬂower contains anthocyanins. These various phytochemicals have been shown to contribute to our long-term health by acting as antioxidants, and helping to reduce the risk for cancer. Talk about eating the rainbow!
Before we get into some delicious ways to prepare this beautiful vegetable, let’s learn a bit more about cauliﬂower.
- Cauliﬂower is a member of the brassica family, which also includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
- Like its relatives, cauliﬂower is a nutrient dense powerhouse with high levels of dietary ﬁber and vitamin C, as well as vitamin K, vitamin B6, and folate.
- One cup of cauliﬂower contains just 25 calories.
- In addition to lovely, bright colors, cauliﬂower also takes on some wild shapes – the Romanesco variety has curds in repetitive fractal shapes.
- Cauliﬂower has a long history! It was mentioned in ancient texts written by Arab scholars in the 12 and 13 century, when it was grown around the Mediterranean in places such as Cyprus, North Africa, and parts of the Middle East.
- The cauliﬂower plant was introduced to other parts of Europe such as Italy and France in later centuries. France embraced the vegetable, where it was a favorite in the court of Louis XIV and a staple in rich dishes from the Brittany region.
- Today, most of America’s cauliﬂower comes from California, but it’s also grown in New York, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, and Texas.
And without further ado here are Oldways’ ideas for 12 Great Ways to Use Cauliﬂower!