What to do with cauliflower

Tips and ideas for using cauliflower.

Availability: Year-round, but at its best from May to August.

Buying: Choose firm, compact cauliflower heads that are creamy-white. Yellow tinges are a sign of age. The leaves at the base of the vegetable should be crisp and green.

Storing: Remove all but the innermost leaves and store unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the fridge. Use cauliflower within four days.

Preparation: Cut cauliflower into florets and wash well before using. To cook cauliflower whole, remove all leaves and cut out the core. Place in a deep saucepan half-filled with water. Cover pan with lid or foil and cook over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Aluminium turns cauliflower yellow, so it's best to use a stainless-steel pan.

Nutrition: Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C and a range of other nutrients.

  • For quick cauliflower cheese, melt a little reduced-fat spread and oil in a pan and gently fry 1 chopped onion. Add just-steamed cauliflower florets and cook until cauliflower is golden. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with grated parmesan, and place under a hot grill until cheese melts.
  • Roast with olive oil until soft and golden, then sprinkle with toasted almonds.
  • Try cauliflower mash: Roast as above, then purée in a blender with olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper. Or boil or steam cauliflower florets until very tender, then mash with some grated parmesan and reduced-fat spread. Better than mashed potato!
  • Make a pasta sauce: fry 4 anchovies, 2 cloves garlic and 1-2 red chillies – all finely chopped – in oil. Add steamed, chopped cauliflower florets, a handful of sultanas and pine nuts. Cook until cauliflower is golden. Spoon over pasta and serve with grated parmesan.
  • Make a soup by cooking 2 sliced leeks and 2-3 finely chopped garlic cloves in olive oil. Add cauliflower florets and 6 cups of chicken stock. Simmer until cauliflower is tender, then blend. Serve topped with bacon bits and natural yoghurt. For extra flavour, add spices.
  • Cauliflower fritters are a hit with the kids. Steam cauliflower until soft, then mash. Add cheese, egg and flour to make fritters. Pan-fry and serve with a leafy green salad.
  • Serve raw with yummy dips like hummus, pesto or tapenade. Cut into small florets.
  • Toss into a curry, especially with Indian spices and toasted cashew nuts.
  • Use in stir-fries with other vegetables. Use the stalks, too!
  • Simply pan-fry in olive oil with garlic and parsley.
  • Mix with broccoli andl lightly steam.
First published: Aug 2008

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