Cauliflower is a member of the brassica family (which includes broccoli, Brussels sprout, kale, and cabbage, among others). The head of cauliflower that we consume is actually the undeveloped flower buds; if left to continue maturing, they will form small yellow flowers and go to seed (but we always eat them before it comes to that!). Cauliflower, like other brassicas, prefers cooler weather, though generally takes longer to mature than broccoli and cabbage. Cauliflower is rich in vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E, as well as a number of minerals and vegetable protein (however, excessive cooking destroys some B, much of the C, and all of the E vitamins).
Romanesco is a variant of cauliflower, and can be stored and cooked similarly. Its appearance is striking – light green, with beautiful spiral buds. The number of spirals on a head is a Fibonacci number.
Refrigerate in a hydrator drawer for 1-2 weeks, or blanch and freeze for longer-term storage. Soak upside down in cold, salted water to remove any lingering field pests.
Remove outer leaves, rinse cauliflower head, and cut off any blemishes. The cauliflower head may be left whole or cut into florets.
Steam cauliflower for 15-20 minutes for the whole head, or 5-10 minutes for florets. To stop the cooking process (and avoid overcooking), run under cold water. Steamed cauliflower can be marinated in a favorite dressing.
Eat florets raw with a dip. Throw florets in a pasta sauce, or pour sauce over cooked head. Alternatively (or additionally), sprinkle with grated cheese. Puree cauliflower and use as a soup base or thickener.
1 head cauliflower
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely minced
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut cauliflower into florets and spread on a baking dish in a single layer. Add garlic, sprinkle lemon juice over cauliflower, and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Place uncovered dish in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top slightly browns and cauliflower can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. (Original recipe here.)