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Q&A With Levana: Is Cauliflower The New Kale?

ask levana

I have seen cauliflower crusts popping up everywhere and I would love a recipe I can rely on, as well as ideas on how to use it beyond making pizza. - Miriam G., Los Angeles, Ca.

Cauliflower has always been around, and is being treated like a blast from the past. The reason it is currently enjoying rock star status is because, in addition to its delicious intense funky flavor, versatile texture and unobtrusive neutral white color, it is endowed with an ideal nutritional profile: distinguished member of the cruciferous (cabbage) family, associated with cancer-prevention and detox, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, very low in carbs, very low in calories. Hey this sounds just like the holy grail to me! This goes for frozen cauliflower every bit as much as for fresh cauliflower. Here are just some ideas about how to use cauliflower every chance you get, including a killer pasta recipe I recently developed.

MORE: Eating in Season: Cauliflower and Sunchokes

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1. AS A PIZZA CRUST: Squeeze frozen cauliflower florets dry, grind fine in a food processor with an egg and a little olive oil and seasonings, shape the mixture into a thin circle on a tray, and add your favorite toppings before baking.

2. ROASTED: These get munched on straight out of the oven, and never make it alive to the table. Hmmm, good problem. Spray a foil-lined baking tray with vegetable spray, top with frozen cauliflower florets arranged in one layer, spray again, sprinkle lightly with salt, and roast at 425°F for about 25-30 minutes, until all florets look nice and roasted. For a delicious Cauliflower Gratin, top the roasted cauliflower with shredded cheddar and roast a few more minutes.

3. IN TABOULEH: Shhh, don’t tell bulgur! Make your tabouleh the way you always do, substituting frozen cauliflower for the bulgur. Be sure to use frozen cauliflower, squeezed dry and ground fine (but not puree; you want a meal-like texture that would mimic that of bulgur).

4. IN LATKES AND KUGELS: Use your favorite latke or kugel recipe, substituting fresh or frozen cauliflower for the potatoes, alone or in combination with celery root, turnips, parsnips etc.

5. IN VEGETABLE PURÉES AND TERRINES: Just the way you make mashed potatoes or terrines, substituting fresh or frozen cauliflower for the potatoes, alone or in combination with celery root, turnips, parsnips etc.

6. IN HEALTH SALADS: Satisfying enough to be a complete main course, with or without the addition of some diced cooked chicken or fish (or cheese, for a dairy main course). It is perfectly all right if you don’t have – or would rather not use – all of the following ingredients: Fresh cauliflower cut in small florets, with sliced radishes, good pitted olives, toasted sunflower seeds, chickpeas, shredded carrots, diced red pepper raw or roasted (bottled OK), thinly sliced white cabbage or romaine lettuce, sliced cucumbers, sliced celery, diced avocado, cranberries or raisins, scallions, lots of minced parsley and dill. Dress the salad with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

7. IN FRITTATAS AND OMELETS: Throw small frozen and thawed cauliflower florets, squeezed dry, in your frittata or omelet filling. 

8. IN SOUPS: Raw or frozen cauliflower, with leeks, diced celery root, olive oil, curry, water (I beg you no commercial soup base whatsoever), salt and pepper. Cook and cream with an immersion blender.

9. IN PICKLES: Fresh cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, cucumbers, celery, red onions. All aboard in a glass jar, covered with water, a little cider vinegar and salt. The pickles will be ready in just a couple of days.

10. PASTA WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER (see recipe below).

MORE: 5 Cauliflower Recipes That WIll Change Your Life


Pasta With Roasted Cauliflower and Bread Crumbs Topping Dek

Roasting the cauliflower intensifies the flavors even further. I use frozen cauliflower, as it is already cut, cleaned, and every bit as delicious and nutritious! 

Attention gluten-free readers: This is for you too! Although this dish needs no help from the usual pasta suspects to be fantastic, feel free to jazz up this dish some more with one of the following: Minced anchovies or sardines, capers, grated Parmesan, toasted nuts. In this case, make absolutely sure to include no salt in your recipes, as one of these additions will be amply enough to salt the whole dish.

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