Belonging to the same plant family as broccoli, kale and cabbage, 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 forms part of its name. Here, we take a look at what you need to consider when buying cauliflower and introduce you to the various colour 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, which makes it much easier to digest, and this is the reason why cooked cauliflower is an ideal baby food. Furthermore, it is rich in fibre 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.
A delicacy since the days of Louis XIV
Cauliflower was already enjoying status and popularity more than 300 years ago, even though, at this time, people knew nothing about all the healthy nutrients it contained. Back then, cauliflower was a rare commodity that became highly fashionable because of its pale and interesting looks; in fact, its pallor led to it gaining an outstanding reputation at the court of King Louis XIV – so much so that a cauliflower dish was named after his mistress, Madame Dubarry. Today, Crème Dubarry (cauliflower soup) is still regarded as a haute cuisine classic and remains a highlight on restaurant menus.
A simple recipe for tasty Cauliflower Dubarry
100 g Emmental cheese
100 g Parmesan cheese
100 ml whipping cream
Salt, pepper and nutmeg
Clean off the cauliflower head, divide it into even-sized florets, and wash. Next, cook the florets in boiling, well-salted water until al dente. Strain, rinse in cold water, and leave to drain.
Grate the Emmental and Parmesan cheeses, and whisk together with the eggs and whipping cream. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Finally, evenly spread out the drained cauliflower florets in a gratin dish, pour over the egg, cream and cheese mixture, and bake in the oven until golden brown.
Our tip: cauliflower cooking times should be kept short to minimise the loss of valuable nutrients and so, to optimally preserve vitamins, we recommend lightly steaming your cauliflower for 3 to 4 minutes until al dente. Visit our recipes section for more cauliflower recipes.
How to keep cauliflower fresh
To take full advantage of all the healthy vitamins and minerals that it has to offer, you should always eat it fresh. When buying one, make sure the leaves are green and crispy, that the stem is juicy, and that the head is white to cream-coloured. 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 or in a Liebherr BioFresh compartment where it will keep for up to 21 days. If you want to keep your cauliflower for longer, simply remove the stem, briefly blanch it in salted water, cool, and then freeze it.
As colourful as they are healthy
It will no doubt surprise some of our readers to learn that the white cauliflower, so popular with the French thanks to its fashionably pale colour, is not the only ‘cauliflower kid on the block’. In southern Italy this vegetable has a very different appearance, and purple one is a special favourite. With this variety the rule of thumb is: the brighter the colour, the more intense the flavour. Despite the fact that purple cauliflower has something of an artificial appearance, it is a completely bona fide, natural variant. Its bright colour comes from its high anthocyanin content – anthocyanins are vegetable colourants, which are also found in blueberries, for example. But, you need to take special care when cooking purple cauliflower as, if boiled for too long, it loses its colour and turns a rather unappetising greyish-green!
Whilst the notion of purple might seem wacky to some, if you haven’t seen green cauliflower before you’ll be in for a shock! Known as Romanesco, it has a wonderfully decorative, extra-terrestrial-like appearance, and it will certainly get your dinner guests talking!