As of late, cauliflower has risen to a level of fame well beyond its typical place on a veggie tray — as the often last-picked item — and its “ghost broccoli” moniker.
The cruciferous vegetable has been around for thousands of years, but innovations to its cooking techniques make it feel new and exciting. Roasted, steamed, puréed, fried, raw, pickled, grilled, riced — cauliflower has a subtle flavor, allowing it to be highly versatile and pair well with other bolder flavors.
Cauliflower has even become a go-to substitute for those avoiding gluten or aiming to reduce their starchy carbohydrate intake. Its advantages, however, extend well beyond that: It contains anti-inflammatory properties and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, making it a healthy add to anyone’s diet.
While white cauliflower is the most common variety, the vegetable also comes in purple, orange, and green colors, each with their own subtle flavor differences. Choose your preference and enjoy it in the recipes below to reap its many nutritional benefits.
Cauliflower-Parmesan Crust With Bacon, Arugula, and Tomato
Compatible with most savory pizza toppings, this delicate crust is best made into personal-size pizzas.
Makes four 6-inch pizzas
Prep/Cook time: 45 to 60 minutes
For the crust:
- 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
For the toppings:
- 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups (1 pint) cherry tomatoes
- 2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- 4 cups baby arugula or spinach
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the crust:
- Steam the cauliflower until tender. Cool and then pulse in a food processor until it resembles couscous.
- Pour the cauliflower into a strainer, then press out the excess moisture.
- Mix the cauliflower with the remaining crust ingredients. Divide into four mounds and press each into a 6-inch circle on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let sit about 15 minutes.
Prepare the toppings:
- Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
- Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, and roast the tomatoes in the oven until they burst, about 15 minutes.
- Toss the tomatoes with the bacon, and season with salt and pepper.
- Top each pizza crust with the tomato-bacon mixture, mozzarella, and basil.
- Bake until the cheese is melted and then dress with a handful of arugula or spinach.
Source: “Cauliflower-Parmesan Crust With Bacon, Arugula, and Tomato” (Experience Life, 2014)
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Leeks, garlic, and other alliums contain prebiotics, an indigestible fiber that provides critical support for your gut microbiome and digestive health.
Makes four servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
- 1 head cauliflower
- 4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks (white and light green parts), rinsed and chopped thoroughly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 14-oz. can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, then place in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
- Place a stock pot over medium heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add leeks. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional one to two minutes.
- Add roasted cauliflower, water, coconut milk, and spices to the stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and allow soup to simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 35 minutes.
- Allow soup to cool slightly, then add to a blender and blend until smooth, venting the lid slightly to let steam escape. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to blend directly in the pot. Serve.
Source: “Creamy Cauliflower Soup” (Experience Life, 2020)
Herb-Infused Cauliflower Rice
This Indian-inspired paleo rice has turmeric, coriander, cumin, and other warming spices.
Makes six servings
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 to 6 minutes
- 1 1/2 lb. cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1-in. florets
- 6 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup tightly packed chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup tightly packed chopped mint leaves
- Place the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket and steam until just tender-crisp, about five to six minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Place the cooked cauliflower in a food processor and pulse about 15 times, until the texture is fine, with pieces about the size of rice grains.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Add the cauliflower and toss well to coat. Taste, and adjust with a couple of pinches of salt, if needed.
- When the cauliflower has completely cooled, fold in the parsley and mint. Serve at room temperature.
Source: “Herb-Infused Cauliflower Rice” (Experience Life, 2018)
This creamy, comforting gratin is a cinch to make. If crème fraîche is not available, sub heavy whipping cream or sour cream.
Makes four to six servings
Prep/cook time: 60 to 70 minutes
- 1 large head of cauliflower, about 1½ pounds, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 8-ounce container of crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives
- 1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese, about 2 ounces
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In an 8-x-8-inch baking pan, toss the cauliflower with the oil, salt, and pepper.
- Roast the cauliflower for about 20 minutes, or until it begins to brown.
- Meanwhile, mix together the crème fraîche, green onions, and cheese. When the cauliflower is finished roasting, stir in the crème-fraîche mixture.
- Sprinkle with the almonds, and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the gratin is golden brown and bubbly.
Source: “Cauliflower-Manchego Gratin” (Experience Life, 2014)
Cauliflower florets are battered in a spiced chickpea-flour mixture, roasted in a hot oven, and drizzled with a homemade Korean hot sauce.
Makes four servings
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
For the cauliflower:
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
- 1 tbs. avocado oil or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal, as garnish (optional)
For the sauce:
- 1 tbs. red-chili or gochujang paste
- 3 tbs. rice wine or sherry
- 2 tbs. rice vinegar
- 1 tbs. tamari
- 3 tbs. honey
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbs. minced fresh gingerroot
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. To make the batter, combine chickpea flour, smoked paprika, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Whisk, then whisk in the water until smooth.
- Toss cauliflower florets in the batter, making sure to coat each piece.
- Place a heavy baking sheet in the hot oven and let it heat for five minutes.
- Remove and drizzle with avocado or coconut oil, then spread the cauliflower on top of the hot oil.
- Drizzle leftover batter over any bare spots on cauliflower. Quickly put the pan back in the oven to retain its heat. Bake 25 minutes.
- While the cauliflower bakes, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about five minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the cauliflower with a spatula. Drizzle evenly with the sauce and bake for 10 minutes longer.
- Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.
Source: “Korean Cauliflower” (Experience Life, 2019)