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Cauliflower… Undercover!

Cauliflower

Chances are slim that when asked to choose their favorite vegetable, a person will name cauliflower as leader of the pack. But with a spree of inventive new recipes involving cauliflower, it’s possible that this humble head of ivory may quickly become king – if not the MVP of vegetables everywhere.

See the Mushroom-Crusted Steak with Cauliflower on this week’s menu!

The power behind this sleeper star lies within its nutritional value and neutral flavor. It’s a natural detoxifier with anti-inflammatory effects and it supports the digestive system, while also providing a source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Best of all, its fairly unobtrusive flavor slips unnoticed into a wide range of dishes while adding that nutritional boost, especially when pureed into silky oblivion. For proof of its incognito ability and overall versatility in both sweet and savory dishes, let’s turn to the more unexpected areas that cauliflower can crop up.

Cauliflower for breakfast

Although you’re not likely to reach for a bunch of raw florets while enjoying your morning java, breakfast is a great time to inject a dose of cauliflower without affecting its classic flavors. Take pancakes, a quintessential morning staple: here cauliflower can stand in for flour when quickly cooked in the microwave and pureed, or it can be added to your usual boxed pancake mix for a smooth nutritional bonus.

Cauliflower can also provide a gluten-free substitute for morning oatmeal when run through a ricer. Mix it with the usual suspects of milk, cinnamon, nuts and fruity toppings, and breakfast is complete. Or give grated cauliflower a spin as hash browns alongside chopped bacon and onion, cooked in a skillet.

Sneaking cauliflower into lunch & dinner

Perhaps the most powerful part of cauliflower’s rise to the edible peak is its potential for improving classics like pizza, fried rice, and pasta. Yes, even pizza crust can be infiltrated by this crafty vegetable simply by combining riced or grated cauliflower with egg, cheese and seasonings and then baking the crust until golden brown, finished with the toppings of choice. As many will attest, you can hardly tell that the crust is healthy, as it holds together well when you hold a slice in your hand.

Replace fatty fried rice with cauliflower that’s pulsed in a food processor and then stir-fried with flavors like ginger, mushrooms, scallions, and fish sauce for a satisfying substitute to gluten. Even the richest pasta dish can be “enlightened” with cooked cauliflower that’s blended with vegetable broth and a hint of cream, yielding the same creamy texture of traditional alfredo without the highly caloric cheese factor.

The savory possibilities don’t end there; pureed cauliflower can also sneak into mac and cheese and mashed potatoes undetected, or stand in for the carbs completely by replacing the pasta and potatoes themselves. It also stars in grain-free, protein-packed bread, cheesy tater tots or as a meaty stand-in for wings in spicy buffalo sauce, with individual florets battered in rice flour and hot sauce and baked until crispy. Cauliflower shows no fear as a steak substitute either, with thick planks sliced from the middle of the plant through the stalk that can then be seared in a skillet, roasted in the oven and served over vegetable puree, a la T-Bone steak.

Cauliflower in dessert?

The final test of cauliflower’s prowess comes in the dessert round. Can it seamlessly sink into sweets so that even the most vegetable-averse are unaware of its presence?

The answer is of course, yes. It does just that in cheesecake, masked by the strong tang of ricotta, crème fraiche and lemon, and can also be lost in the tender textures of both bread pudding and rice pudding. It even works its way into the untouchable chocolate brownie. Blend raw cauliflower puree with the usual cocoa powder, eggs, butter and cream cheese along with a scant cup of coconut flour and spices, and you’ve got a low-carb, gluten-free brownie ready for edible demolition.

Try cauliflower in every meal

The results are in and cauliflower’s playing for keeps. To take on the task of incorporating it into more daily dishes, try the quick recipes below for a peek of cauliflower at every meal.

 

- Amanda Marsteller, thechoyluckclub.blogspot.com

 

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