Cauliflower is a surprisingly versatile vegetable. I didn’t eat much of it growing up and when I was exposed to it, it was either plain steamed cauliflower or those raw pieces that no one eats on those veggie party platters. Neither of those things was particularly exciting, so for years, I assumed cauliflower was the boring, tasteless vegetable that people sometimes ate out of obligation more than enjoyment.
In reality, quite often the magic of any ingredient is in the preparation. As it turned out, there were many delicious ways to enjoy cauliflower that I just hadn’t been exposed to yet!
Cauliflower is actually a quite the superstar of versatility in the veggie world. Today I’m going to share two of my favorite cauliflower recipes from the past on the blog as well as my latest cauliflower obsession. Not only are they absolutely craveable, they’re also all vegan, Whole30 and Keto diet adaptable!
First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that there is such a thing as purple cauliflower? It can actually come in a variety of shades, including orange and green, depending on the conditions in which it’s grown. Other than color, it’s no different than plain old white cauliflower in flavor or texture. (Although it costs three times the price of regular cauliflower when you buy it from a trendy little health food store.)
The trick is often in how you prepare and season cauliflower because while it doesn’t have a particularly strong flavor, it carries other flavors quite well. One really simple way to start incorporating it into your weekly menu is in a good, hearty cauliflower steak!
• 1 large head cauliflower
• 3-4 large garlic cloves, diced
• 2-3 tsp Steak Seasoning
• 2-3 tsp Cumin
• 2-3 tsp Nutritional Yeast plus some
• 2-3 tsp Oregano
• 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded (or vegan cheese substitute)
• Coconut oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by washing your cauliflower and trimming away the leaves. Place it base down on your cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut at the top center of the cauliflower head all the way down through the stem, dividing it into two halves. Then carefully cut each half of the heads again, dividing them into two 3/4 inch thick slices (between the two halves, you should have about four cauliflower steaks altogether).
My head of cauliflower was a little smaller, so as I was cutting it I was only about to get two steaks out of it. Don’t fret if you end up with a big pile of cauliflower crumbles like I did, because you can repurpose them for the other two cauliflower recipes in this post.
In the oven:
Place your steaks on a baking sheet and lightly coat them in a layer of cooking oil. Sprinkle your garlic and seasonings over the steaks to your liking (I a big lover of flavor, so I’m usually pretty generous with mine). Top each steak with 1/4 cup mozzarella, salt and pepper to taste and an extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.
On the grill:
You can cook it one of two ways on the grill: directly on the cooking grate or on a sheet of aluminum foil. If using aluminum, place the cauliflower on it and give it a quick coat of coconut oil, followed by the garlic, all other seasonings and the cheese. Place on the grill and cook for 15-20 minutes. If cooking on the grate, give both sides of the cauliflower an equal coating of coconut oil, garlic and seasonings. Cook for 8-10 minutes on one side, then flip over. Add a top coat of cheese and finish cooking another 8-10 minutes. We have a charcoal grill and usually opt for cooking veggies directly on the grate to make the most of that delicious, smoky flavor for the coals!
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
This is one of my all-time favorite cauliflower recipes, as well as one of the first recipes to go up on the blog! When I began making it several years ago, I was looking for two things: some lighter versions of holiday side dishes and vegetable preparations my very picky boyfriend (who has since upgraded to picky husband) would actually eat.
This recipe mimics the flavor and comfort of mashed potatoes without all of the excessive carbs or starch. It was a hit with him and all of our family members and I’ve made it every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner since then. It’s also really is picky-eater friendly. I actually told him that they were mashed potatoes the first time I cooked them for him, and he believed me when he tried them. (I had to bamboozle him into better eating habits at first and I don’t feel the least bit sorry for it. He’s enjoys eating healthier now, but he really was quite incorrigible at first with trying new veggies.)
• 1 large head cauliflower
• 5 large cloves garlic, peeled
• ¼ – ½ cup light sour cream (or ¼ cup Tofutti vegan cream cheese)
• 1-2 Tablespoons unpasteurized butter (or Earth Balance butter substitute)
• Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Fill a four-quart stockpot with 1-2 inches of water and allow it to come to a boil. While water heats, wash and trim cauliflower and cut up the florets and stem. Place cauliflower and garlic into the pot, lightly salting. Boil 10 minutes, or until everything is tender. Drain out the water and transfer the garlic and cauliflower into a food processor (or high-speed blender). Add in butter, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Puree until smooth and serve hot.
Cauliflower rice is quite easily my latest an greatest food obsession. I’m not sure when this version of cauliflower became so trendy, but I’m pretty sure I was the last person to hear about it. I wasn’t really aware it was a thing until a friend mentioned using it in her weekly meal prep. One day I saw it start popping up in packages at grocery stores and decided to investigate.
I’m glad I did, because it turns out the uses for this stuff are practically endless. Cauliflower rice is extremely versatile as a base in a number of recipes, from bakes, sautees, dips, stir-fries, hot or cold salads to wild things like cauliflower sushi or cauliflower pizza crust. It turned out to be so easy to make, I couldn’t even bring myself to spend the extra few dollars on a store prepared version. You only need a few simple things to make your own at home!
- 1 head of cauliflower
- A food processor (or quality, high-speed blender)
- Mad button-pushing skills
Okay, are you ready for this very in-depth, complicated guide for how to make cauliflower rice? I hope so, because there’s no turning back now. Wash and destem your cauliflower, then chop the florets into smaller pieces. You want to try to make them all relatively uniform in size so that they will blend evenly.
Drop a few handfuls of cauliflower into the food processor and begin to manually pulse. Continue pulsing (stirring occasionally as needed to keep everything even) until the cauliflower pieces break up into a little sea of crumbles.
Once the first batch is done, scoop it out into a container and repeat this step with another few handfuls of chopped cauliflower. Don’t overfill the food processor or you may end up with a wonky blend, pureeing cauliflower at the bottom and leaving uneven chunks at the top (which would be terrible, because you obviously don’t want rumors spreading around the neighborhood that you’re a wonky blender). Finish blending until you’ve used up all the florets and there you have it! Your official first batch cauliflower rice!
All writing and images copyright © 2018 Rachel Elise Weems Woods