Monday, October 31, 2011

Wild Cabbage

Cauliflower that is, a descendent of the wild cabbage, belonging to the group of the other cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, collards and cabbage, and mighty delicious to boot. Not to mention dang good for you. It is believed to have originated in ancient Asia Minor and the Mediterranean and has slowly gained popularity around the globe. It comes in a rainbow of colors these days as well has miniature varieties and the very trippy looking Romanesco variety. Cauliflower is a health power house, considered a super food it contains in 1 (6 oz.) serving your entire daily dose of vitamin C. It is also a good source of fiber, vitamin K, and folate for those childbearing folk.  It is also accredited with being a descent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is naturally low in fat, carbs, and sodium. Why wouldn’t you eat this vegetable by the bucketful? Maybe you never had it cooked properly? Bad childhood memory? Put all of that behind you and try out some of these ways to enjoy, very simply, the wild cabbage of today…

Basic Roasted/Broiled Cauliflower:  Serves 4 as a side
1 big head of cauliflower or 2 small
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

 Heat your oven to 475°F. Place a rack in the top third of your oven or at least 4-6 inches from the broiler element.

Step 1: trim the green leaves and tip of the stem from the bottom of the cauliflower 

Step 2: cut it in half

Step 3: slice into 3/4-1- inch thick slices, trying to keep as intact as possible

Step 4: drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper

Step 5: cook in oven for about 15 minutes, flip and 5 minutes more

Step 6: put your oven to broil and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the edges get brown and crispy (times may very based on ovens and broilers, keep a close eye…you want tender and golden not mushy or burnt)

Step 7: Enjoy as is or try one of these flavor combos:

Salty: Once roasted, toss with some chopped capers, lemon zest and juice, and toasted seasoned breadcrumbs (I used crushed homemade croutons) and chopped fresh parsley.
Indian: (If you have is drizzle with melted virgin coconut oil) With the salt and pepper toss with your favorite curry powder (mild or hot) or even garam masala and some fresh grated ginger, or dried. Once roasted finish with some lemon juice, chopped cilantro and some Greek style yogurt.
Nuts and Fruit: Once roasted, toss with golden raisins, toasted pine nuts or almonds, a squeeze of lemon and chopped fresh parsley or chives.
Spicy/Sweet: Once roasted, toss with some crushed red pepper or cayenne, and a little drizzle of honey, maybe even a squeeze of orange or lime juice.
Bacon/Cheese: Once roasted, toss with some chopped cooked bacon and cheddar cheese, and finish with some chopped chives.
I could go on and on…make up your own flavor combo!!!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup - Serves 4-6
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into 1inch pieces
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and root end trimmed
2 medium shallots peeled, root end trimmed and cut in half
2 medium celery stalks, strings removed and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
3 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups half and half
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Lemon olive oil for garnish
Chopped fresh chervil or chives for garnish

Immersion blender

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl toss together the cauliflower, garlic cloves, shallots, and celery.  Drizzle evenly with the olive oil.  Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven until golden, about 30-35 minutes stirring halfway through the cooking time.
In a 6-8 quart stock pot on medium high heat combine roasted vegetables, broth, water, thyme, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are very tender.  Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Remove the pot from the heat. Blend the soup until smooth or to desired consistency with an emersion blender. Return the pot to the heat and add the cream, lemon zest and juice and allow to just heat through. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately with a drizzle of lemon olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Cauli Puree

I use this in all kinds of applications especially in my kid’s food in order to get some extra nutrition into his food…I sneak it in everything, mac’n cheese, potatoes, quesadillas, pasta dishes, scrambled eggs, in quick breads(omit the pepper), in chicken salad, etc.
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into equal size florets.
Salt and pepper
Steamer basket
Microwave safe dish with lid

Steam the cauliflower in pot with a steamer basket and lid for about 10 minutes or until tender. You can also cook the cauliflower in the microwave in a covered dish with some water in the bottom for about the same amount of time stopping to stir it half way through the cooking time.
Puree the cauliflower in a food processor until smooth. Add butter, salt and pepper and eat as is or use it in combination with any of the suggestions above.

Also, for all you raw foodies out there try this fun recipe:

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