By Mark Mulcahy
It has always seemed to me that Cauliflower is one of the vegetables that has never been given the respect it was due. I think perhaps because it’s white when most other vegetables are brightly colored, or that it’s hearty in flavor but not sweet like carrots or peppers. Even Mark Twain slighted its value when he proclaimed, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
All this has changed in the past couple of years, as Cauliflower has become one of the most popular vegetables in the United States… Just look at how many ways you can eat it: raw in salad or on a crudités' platter, steamed, mashed, or in a tasty soup; these preparations are all very familiar to most of us.
But chefs and food lovers are taking it to a whole new level. The other night I had wood fired pecan crusted cauliflower, which was absolutely scrumptious. You can buy organic riced cauliflower in stores or even make it at home in a food processor which can be used as a meal base or to even make pizza crusts. Or how about roasted organic cauliflower hummus? It’s so good! It doesn’t taste like your standard everyday hummus but its sweet nutty flavor works really well with the lemon and garlic that are part of most hummus recipes. So watch out world! Cauliflower is making a comeback in a big way and all of us get to enjoy the tasty benefits.
Cauliflower is versatile, tasty and an excellent source of Vitamin C. Maybe the next time you go shopping for Melissa’s produce you find a display with organic bell peppers, cauliflower and asparagus along with bottles of OJ crowned with a sign that reminds us we can reach for these veggies when you are looking for Vitamin C. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Twain was right about cauliflower being related to cabbage; as a matter of fact it belongs to the same species of cruciferous vegetables that includes kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These fantastic Cruciferous vegetables are known as incredible cancer fighters in women and men. For women eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, it has been shown to prevent breast cancer due to the fact that they contain isothiocyanates, (no this isn’t a mythological Greek god) which are believed to be responsible for the cancer-preventive benefits you get when you eat them.
But that’s not all! Check out how eating broccoli can benefit men too! Studies have shown that tomatoes and broccoli are better at shrinking prostate tumors when both eaten together than when they're eaten alone. Sort of two for one deal, right? Sounds like a nice homemade pasta sauce or sauté is in order.
Lastly if you want to make sure you are selecting the best cauliflower head next time you are in the store, try these simple rules:
For organic cauliflower- look for white, firm, compact heads that are heavy for their size.
How much should they buy? To serve 4 to 6 people they’ll need a head that is 6 inches in diameter, which will weigh about 2 pounds.
For organic broccoli- choose dark green bunches with heads that are tight and stalks that are very firm. And don’t throw those stems away! Peel ‘em and cut them into small strips to munch on while you are making dinner. If you don’t like them by themselves grab something to dip the stalk into, like your favorite organic salad dressing.
Enjoy the spring showers and all of the cauliflowers!