The cauliflower, with its compact head of undeveloped flower buds attached to a central stem, is no ordinary looking flower- despite the fact that the word is part of its name. It belongs to the same family of plants as broccoli, kale and cabbage. Our post today takes a look at what you need to consider when buying cauliflower and introduces you to the various color varieties available.
The cauliflower is one of the lightest and most delicate types of cabbage. It has a finer cell structure than other family members, making it much easier to digest. This is the reason why cooked cauliflower is an ideal baby food. Cauliflower is rich in fiber and minerals (iron, magnesium and potassium) and has a high vitamin B and C content. When the days turn cold, a portion of good ol’ comforting and tasty cauliflower cheese is an ideal way to boost the immune system.
Cauliflower – A Delicacy Since the Days of Louis XIV
Cauliflower was already popular more than 300 years ago. At that time, people knew nothing about all the healthy nutrients it contained. It was a rare commodity which became highly fashionable because of its pale and interesting looks. Its pallor led to it gaining an outstanding reputation at the court of King Louis XIV. An upmarket dish, ‘Gratin de chou-fleur à la Dubarry’, was even named after his mistress, Madame Dubarry. Crème Dubarry, a cauliflower soup, also remains a highlight on restaurant menus to this day.
A Simple Recipe for a Tasty Gratin à la Dubarry
1 Cup of grated Swiss Cheese
1 Cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup of Whipped Cream
Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg
Clean off the cauliflower head, divide it into even-sized florets, and wash. Next, cook the florets in well-salted boiling water until ‘al dente’. Strain, rinse in cold water, and leave to drain.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, and whisk together with the grated Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, and whipped cream. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Evenly spread out the drained florets in a gratin dish, pour over the egg, cream and cheese mixture, and bake in the oven until golden brown.
Our tip: Keeping cauliflower cooking times short minimizes the loss of valuable nutrients, and optimally preserve vitamins. We recommend lightly steaming your cauliflower for 3 to 4 minutes until ‘al dente’.
How to Keep Cauliflower Fresh
To take full advantage of all the healthy vitamins and minerals cauliflower has to offer, you should always eat it fresh. When buying cauliflower, make sure the leaves are green and crispy, that the stem is juicy, and that the head is white to cream-colored. If you don’t intend to eat your cauliflower right away, store it in a refrigerator where it will stay fresh for up to 12 days. In a Liebherr BioFresh compartment it will keep for up to 21 days. Want to keep it even longer? Simply remove the stem, briefly blanch it in salted water, let it cool, and then freeze it.
Cauliflower Florets – As Colorful As They Are Healthy
Some of our readers might be surprised to learn that white cauliflower, so popular with the French thanks to its fashionably pale color, is not the only ‘kid on the block’. In southern Italy, this vegetable has a very different appearance, and purple cauliflower is a special favorite. With this variety the rule of thumb is: the brighter the color, the more intense the flavor. Despite the fact that purple cauliflower has something of an artificial appearance, it is a completely bona fide, natural variant. Its bright color comes from its high anthocyanin content- vegetable colorants also found in blueberries, for example. You need to take special care when cooking it. If boiled for too long, it loses its color and turns a rather unappetizing grayish-green! To prevent this kind of culinary disaster, it is advisable to steam purple cauliflower or simply enjoy it raw.
The notion of purple might seem wacky to some, but if you haven’t seen green cauliflower before you’ll be in for a surprise. Romanesco has a wonderfully decorative, almost extra-terrestrial appearance. It will certainly get your dinner guests talking!
What is your favorite type of cauliflower? Please write to us and tell us! Use the comment function below this post or start/join in discussions with us on Facebook.