Like its many brothers and sisters, cauliflower is a cultivar of the cruciferous vegetable species known as Brassica oleracea. This vegetable, whose name translates to "flowers of cabbage," emerged in Cyprus sometime between the 500s and 1500s after decades of selective breeding. The result is the whitish, round, tree-like superstar with tightly packed florets that has become the chameleon of the culinary world.
Thanks to its versatility, nutty flavor, slightly firm texture, and the creativity of clever human beings, this vegetable has been reimagined into virtually any base ingredient you can imagine, from rice to steak to pizza crust. Indeed, the humble cauliflower has likely attained this level of notoriety by its myriad health benefits, including being a low-calorie, high-fiber food source with abundant vitamin C, K, and folate, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This is all great, but convincing even the pickiest eaters to consume cauliflower is the key. Sneaking it into recipes ranging from soups to pasta to side dishes takes some finesse. We scoured the Daily Meal archives to help locate some of the most delicious cauliflower recipes. Read on to see how to prepare cauliflower dishes that your whole dinner table will be raving about.
Korean Air Fried Cauliflower
Sweet, spicy, crunchy Korean chicken is known for its umami-rich saucy glaze loaded with gochujang and soy, which is generously doused over the meat after it has been fried to perfection. This vegan take on the classic uses meaty cauliflower florets for a facsimile everyone will adore.
While this recipe is designed to cook the battered cauliflower in an air fryer, you can achieve similar results in the oven. Place the battered florets onto a wire rack on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the florets once to ensure even crisping.
Recipe: Korean Air Fried Cauliflower
Vegan Cauliflower Taco Salad
While the star of a taco salad is traditionally seasoned ground beef, what gives it great flavor are the spices used on the meat. These can easily be added to cauliflower and walnuts to create a meat-like substitute loaded with heat and savory richness. The key is the texture of the cauliflower and nuts, which should remain slightly chunky, not completely pulverized.
This recipe calls for a creamy dressing, but don't forget the acid. The nutty, umami-forward mock cauliflower will benefit from plenty of zest. Combine tomatillo salsa verde with dried ranch dressing, buttermilk, and a pinch of mayo for a luxurious spread.
Recipe: Vegan Cauliflower Taco Salad
Tomato Cauliflower Soup
Look no further than this luscious tomato soup if you crave nostalgic childhood fare. Its secret to success is the incorporation of cauliflower for a rich, velvety texture. For bolder flavor, you can use roasted cauliflower instead of fresh. This will give this soup the illusion that it was cooked all day.
Should the soup be slightly too acidic when it is done, add a tablespoon or two of honey or maple syrup to temper the acidity. Serve this soup with a delectable grilled cheese sammie loaded with gruyere, asiago, and cheddar cheese to dunk into the bowl.
Recipe: Tomato Cauliflower Soup
Air-Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos
This recipe utilizes the air fryer to create a crispy, crunchy facsimile for Buffalo chicken using cauliflower florets. Again, don't let the lack of an air fryer stop you from making this. Set your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with a wire rack. You can continue baking the battered cauliflower as directed, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time to obtain the ideal chewy yet firm texture.
Amp up the flavor of these tacos by adding avocado and cotija cheese. If you prefer soft shell tortillas, double them so they don't dissolve under the moisture of the Buffalo sauce.
Everything Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower is about trend-setting, so jumping on the everything bagel bandwagon does not surprise anyone. It is a match made in heaven, highlighting the savory combination of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion, and garlic to punctuate the natural nuttiness that is a feature of cauliflower when it is roasted. The beauty of this recipe is its speed and simplicity.
While you can serve this as a side dish or a main entrée for your vegetarian or vegan guests, it would also make for a dynamite accompaniment to a bowl of pasta with a simple marinara sauce or be a delicious base for a frittata.
Recipe: Everything Roasted Cauliflower
No-Cream Cauliflower Soup
One of the things that makes cauliflower so extraordinary is its texture when it is cooked. It takes on an almost buttery mouthfeel without the need for added butter. This impossibly rich soup does not require much active effort. Once you sauté the aromatics, simply season, add the stock, pop in the cauliflower, and let it simmer to perfection.
Consider garnishing this soup with toasted slivered almonds or pepitas for extra nuttiness and crunch. The ideal accompaniment to this would be a savory garlic bread you can dunk into the velvety soup and a nice green salad with a roasted garlic or shallot vinaigrette.
Recipe: No-cream Cauliflower Soup
Roasted Cauliflower With Garlic And Marinara
This cauliflower is braised until golden brown and tender in spicy crushed red pepper flakes and fresh oregano. Adding three kinds of cheese turns this into a luscious ragu you could use in any pasta dish or bake. Simple toss with a tube-shaped pasta, like penne or rotini. These will grasp onto those florets and turn them into bite-sized umami bombs.
Alternatively, consider turning this into a kind of ratatouille by layering grilled zucchini, eggplant, and yellow squash with this ragu-like sauce in a baking dish. Top with toasted bread crumbs and bake for approximately 10 minutes until bubbly and slightly golden brown.
If you love mashed potatoes, you will not want to skip making this dish. It has all of that creamy richness of flavor with fewer calories. For a slight twist on this recipe, consider swapping the parmesan cheese with a smoked gouda. This will enhance the natural nuttiness of cauliflower while giving the dish a stretchiness that creates a comforting mouthfeel.
This dish can be served as a side with virtually any protein. You can also use it as a base for a Shepherd's pie or a casserole that features mashed potatoes. Lastly, turn them into croquettes served with a spicy Romesco sauce.
Recipe: Mashed Cauliflower
Wood-Smoked Cauliflower And Carrots With Pistachio Crunch
These Mediterranean-inspired vegetables are loaded with flavor and texture. The spices provide some heat, the nuts crunch, and the cranberries a chewy finish that can all be tempered with the yogurt or sour cream garnish.
While the recipe calls for smoking the veggies over wood on the grill, you can achieve similar results in the oven. Toss the vegetables with the oil and seasonings and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 25 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally to avoid burning the vegetables. Serve these with a side of rice pilaf and a hunk of pita or naan for dipping.
Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
This casserole is a cruciferous vegetable and cheese lover's delight. The luscious sauce made with parmesan and cream cheeses will envelop the broccoli and cauliflower beautifully, and the bread crumbs form a crunchy topping that will become a culinary party in your mouth.
For an added burst of flavor, consider incorporating a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and half a teaspoon of umami-rich Worcestershire sauce into the cheese sauce. Serve this casserole alongside your favorite proteins, like roast chicken or pan-seared pork chops. Roasted potatoes or rice pilaf would be a simple accompaniment to sop up that rich sauce.
Recipe: Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
Cauliflower In Cinnamon Tomato Sauce
This exotic dish combines steamed cauliflower with a rich, fragrant cinnamon curry tomato sauce that tastes like it is cooked all day. The combination of sweet, savory, and spicy blends aspects of Greek pastitsio, Indian curry, and Italian marinara for a delicately balanced recipe that can be topped with nutty gruyere before being baked.
The finished product can be paired with any protein but would be fabulous with lamb. Rice would be ideal to soak up the sauce, though you could easily use pasta like orzo or Israeli couscous. Garnish with toasted pistachios for a crunchy, salty textural component.
Mshat (Fried Cauliflower)
Mshat are Palestinian cauliflower fritters served as an appetizer or a hearty, savory breakfast with a minty yogurt sauce similar to tzatziki. Though this recipe incorporates some rich spices characteristic of Middle Eastern cuisine, you can always add more spiciness with a hint of cayenne and some sweetness with a dash of cinnamon.
If you plan to make these for a dinner party, consider serving other Middle Eastern delicacies such as a tabbouleh salad, red lentil soup, and baked stuffed mullet with aromatics. And don't skip the flatbread sprinkled with plenty of zaatar to sop up the flavors.
Recipe: Mshat (Fried Cauliflower)
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
This cauliflower mash is transformed into something even more extraordinary by an entire head of roasted garlic. For the roasted garlic, cut the top quarter of the head off and place it onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the garlic head with a teaspoon of olive oil and seal tightly in foil.
Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and allow the garlic to steam in the foil for 10 minutes before squeezing the cloves into your mashed cauliflower. The brightness of the lemon juice in this mash makes it particularly well suited to serve with light, flaky, mild fish, such as mahi mahi. Accompany with a green vegetable like green beans or roasted asparagus.
Recipe: Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas, And Olives
This simple Spanish-style tapas dish is equally delicious and served either hot or at room temperature. Allowing the roasted ingredients to marinate in the refrigerator overnight will give this even more depth of flavor. For a twist, add hot smoked paprika instead of the crushed red pepper and toss the roasted vegetables with just a squirt of lemon juice for brightness and zest.
To serve, pair this dish with other tapas-like recipes. Favorites include goat cheese tapenade stuffed tomatoes, garlic shrimp, sherry sautéed mushrooms, and grilled sardines. And don't forget to serve a Spanish rioja or albariño wine.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Whole roasted cauliflower is a real showstopper when entertaining for the holidays or an elegant soirée with friends. Roasting it whole gives the cauliflower a sweet, nutty flavor and an almost umami-rich meaty texture accentuated by the creamy cheese sauce.
You can spice things up by seasoning the cauliflower with a hint of garlic powder, sumac, and zaatar for a bit of a Middle Eastern flair. Toss the toasted breadcrumbs with finely chopped chili-roasted pistachios, and serve this with plenty of crusty baguette or pita to scoop up the sauce.
Recipe: Whole Roasted Cauliflower
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