May 22nd, 2015

Cauliflower … The Ultimate Veggie Shapeshifter

cauliflower3First off—it’s not like cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. Unlike sweet potatoes, corn or arugula, it doesn’t really have crave-able flavor. There’s not an interesting texture, like that of okra, sugar snap peas or mushrooms. Seriously, when was the last time you said to yourself, “Man, I’m dying for some cauliflower?” To me, cauliflower is super bland—a Plain Jane sort of veg.

Therein lies the magic of cauliflower.

It’s kind of a shapeshifter of sorts: This super versatile vegetable is transformable, uniquely able to be molded into something different. All this month we’ve been focusing on one food (chicken, cucumber), or a category of foods (greens) that can be used five ways in honor of the fifth month of the year. Coming up with five ways to use anything isn’t easy, but when it comes to cauliflower, I found the problem is narrowing the list down.

Let’s hit the ones you’ve probably heard of first—like mashed cauliflower. Using this annual as a stunt double for potatoes in a perennial holiday side is a no-brainer if you want to lighten things up. It’s already a pretty bland dish, making this an easy swap. That said, if you want to amp it up a bit, I’d suggest this version that uses rosemary and garlic would make a nice faux-tato compliment to a big, juicy bird. Or even roast chicken (this is the only way I roast these days, with thanks and admiration to one of my culinary heroes, Thomas Keller.)

Then there’s the ultimate carb-reducing move: cauliflower pizza crust. This isn’t something I’ve tried, but thought the  how-to on Detoxinista.com was worth a go. In the same vein is the recipe I’ve included below for cauliflower tortillas. These super-simple, six-ingredient (plus salt and pepper!) tortillas are great for anything from huevos rancheros, to pulled pork tacos.

cauliflower1So—three down, two to go. And no, neither are ice cream (we are slightly jealous that Tessa got to include that in her cucumber post!) Or soup, of which there are dozens of amazing options. Like this one (mmm, bacon!) and this one (with lemon and carrot!) and this one (caramelized cauliflower soup!), and, well, you get the idea …

This recipe on Epicurious.com for Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew has been one of my favorites to tinker with as of late. I made it to help some folks from our church through a move recently, swapping out the winter squash for the sweet potatoes I had on hand. I also boiled some chicken breasts and shredded them to add a little protein. It was absolutely wonderful. When a client of mine recently asked for me to make a version for her that would be Whole30 compliant, I simply swapped out the quinoa for cauliflower “rice”, which has also become a popular swap in our household for stir fry.

Last, but certainly not least, are these yummy-looking baked cauliflower tots from Gimmedelicious.com. I like tots. Almost as much as Napoleon Dynamite (see him created here with tots and catsup. Gosh.)

Cauliflower Faux-tillas

Ingredientscauliflower4

1 small head cauliflower, riced (about two cups packed)
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about a 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, microplaned or chopped finely
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
2 large or 3 small eggs (SEE NOTE BELOW)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 cauliflower5degrees. Line a baking sheet (or two, if you have them) with parchment paper.

In a food processor, place cut up cauliflower florets and pulse until a bit finer than rice. You can use the head—the “curd”—and the stem, but the stem doesn’t break down as much. If you plan to use it, I’d start ricing there so you don’t over-process the head. You’ll need 2 cups packed for this recipe.

Steam cauliflower over boiling water for five minutes. Place steamed cauliflower in a clean, cauliflower6cotton dishtowel and squeeze out as much water as possible. Be careful — this is hot! Doing this in small batches in paper towels works in a pinch, but a dishtowel is far easier. Transfer to a bowl.

Using about a teaspoon of the olive oil, cook the shallots over medium heat until translucent, but now browned. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add this to the cauliflower and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Add two eggs and stir to combine all ingredients. The right consistency should be a bit runny, but not too liquid-y. If it is dry, add the other egg. Once it is ready, incorporate cilantro to taste (I love cilantro, so I use a lot, but you can omit it all together if you prefer.)

Place six equally-sized portions on parchment paper and spread out into flat circles as pictured. They should be about a 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch thick.

Place in the oven for ten minutes. Remove and carefully flip over on parchment, placing back in the oven to cook an additional 5 minutes or so. Once done, transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool slightly.

Heat a little coconut oil in a medium-sized pan until shimmering. Place the tortilla in the pan, pressing down slightly to brown. Flip, repeat … and enjoy!

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  1. […] … and somehow makes cauliflower resemble oatmeal. As you know, I am a firm believer that cauliflower can be many things. I’m just not convinced this is my favorite usage, but it gets the job done. And it’s […]

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