Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cauliflower - the forgotten and misunderstood veggie...

I like cauliflower.  I often wonder where the name came from.  Obviously it's because it looks like a flower, but where did cauli come from??? nm...just looked it up - it comes from its latin name 'caulis' meaning "cabbage".  So...cabbage flower.  It is a member of the cabbage/broccoli family - just try cooking one and you'll see what I mean.  However, don't let the smell put you off.  Cauliflower is mildly flavored, low in calories - 1 cup of raw cauliflower has only 25 calories.  It also has 2 grams of Protein, as well as some B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, as well as some trace minerals.  The downside is 19% of those 25 calories comes from sugars, or carbohydrates.  However, seeing that cauliflower only has 25 calories in an entire cup, I think I can take that minor drawback.

If you're French, you can call your loved one "petit chou" or "little cabbage" add flower to the end of that, and you have cauliflower in French - chou-fleur.  In Spanish it's coliflor, coming from col + flor which is...duh..."cabbage" and "flower"...Hmmm do you sense a pattern forming here? Let's try another language. - German..."blumenkohl" hrm...that sounds an awful lot like "blooming cabbage" doesn't it? lessee...blumen  is "flower" in German, and kohl is "cabbage" = "flower cabbage".  One more, one more! Let's get a more difficult one - Finnish!! kukkakaali LOL! now...let's see if that breaks down into "cabbage flower" - hrm...kaali is cabbage...let me guess what "flower" is...kukka? *looks it up in Finnish-English Dictionary*  HA! it IS "kukka"...Well, now that we've established that in most languages "cauliflower" is "cabbage flower" let's take a look at a way to prepare it that is scrumptious, delicious, and even if you do NOT LIKE CAULIFLOWER - try it this one just once plz and thank you, and you'll be hooked.

The trick is roasting the cauliflower in a very hot oven with a bit of EVOO.  This makes the cauliflower nice and brown, and it brings out its natural sweetness.  I've adapted the recipe and gave you some variations from one HERE  at "Once Upon a Chef"- It's super simple, and I told Jenn I had to pass it on because it's become my new snack food.  The good thing is my son loves it, and once he ate half a pan before dinner (it was going to be the vegetable) but honestly, how can you get mad at him for eating his veggies?  I will give you some variations - but the trick here is to try some of your OWN - you don't have to try it on a whole pan - take about half a cup, sprinkle on your toppings of choice, and taste test - it's good for you! :) 

Also a note here - depending on the size head of cauliflower, you may need to add more/less EVOO.
Start with your head of caulflower - purty huh? :) Oh, and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Next, cut it up into pieces - about 1 1/2 inches wide.  I will sometimes cut them a bit smaller, that's just me.
Toss with 2-3 Tbs of EVOO - like a said, it depends on the size of your cauliflower, but that's a good amount for starters - it should evenly coat the cauliflower lightly. 

I then put it on a shallow pan, then I sprinkle some kosher salt (about 1/2-3/4 tsp) and fresh ground pepper (I like lots - grind as much or as little as you like) over it - I will also grind some garlic over it, probably about 1 tsp worth (I love garlic)

Bake for about 25-35 minutes, stirring/turning til golden brown.  I usually turn/stir about every ten minutes.  I find that works well.  Take it out of the oven, and sprinkle it with Romano cheese, adjust seasonings if you need to.

Tell me that doesn't look good...makes you want to sit down with a good movie and a bowl of cauliflower! Now the fun part - VARIATIONS! :-)

  1. Substitute Parmesean for the Romano cheese.
  2. Add a couple diced shallots and some cumin and curry powder (about a teaspoon of each).
  3. Try using a smoked salt instead of kosher salt.
  4.  Add a bunch of garlic cloves (they get mild and sweet when you roast them) and squeeze some lemon over all when done.
  5. Instead of black pepper, use red pepper flakes for a kick.
  6. Add some fresh thyme leaves, EVOO, salt, pepper, lemon
I am going to try tossing this with some penne next time I make it, along with hmmm some roasted red peppers, and chicken for the meat lovers in my family (although I would be happy with just the cauliflower) I'm also going to throw in a boatload of garlic cloves, and perhaps mash them up with a bit more EVOO and a bit of the pasta water to make a light sauce before adding the cauliflower and roasted red peppers...Hrm...some baby bella sliced shrooms (sauteed) would be yummy in this too...I'll give it a try and let you know how it turns out.  Meanwhile, enjoy the cauliflower! :-) It's the new favorite snack food in our house!

Thank you again Jenn, from Once Upon a Chef for this wonderful, simple recipe.  Please go to her website for a printable version, and be sure to check out her other recipes, they are delish!

If you have leftover roasted cauliflower you can recrisp it by simply putting it on a metal pan, sprinkling on a bit more romano cheese, and sticking it under the broiler for a few minutes until browned.  Remember to check on it often, since it can change from "just right" to "burnt to a crisp" fairly quickly :-D


  1. i started reading this with a scowl i think..i do not like veggies as you may know. as soon as you added the browning and seasoning of the cauliflower... i was hooked. that looks SO FREAKIN' GOOD. my mouth is watering.
    also, i love all these crazy random tidbits you always have! so fun.

  2. Hah, it is SO FREAKIN'GOOD. Trust me. :) And super easy to make. When you cut the cauliflower, easiest way to do it, is to CAREFULLY cut out the core first, then just break the flowers off in pieces. Ones that are too big you can split by putting your knife on the stem and cutting down partway, and breaking it the rest of the way...Gonna try the pasta tonight and take pix LOL :)

  3. Looks wonderful Chris! I saw(maybe Ina or Giada)doing this a few shows ago and it made me drool too.