We asked you for feedback and we got it! One of the big blog requests is for us to identify seasonal fruits and vegetables and give some tips on how to select, how to store, how to prepare and a great recipe for cooking. So here we go! Here is Vince’s Market’s vegetable highlight of the week – the Cauliflower… everything you need to know. Cauliflower will be a big food trend item for 2015!
Cauliflower is at its best in fall and winter and into early spring. Sunshine and heat bring out bitter flavours in the undeveloped flower buds that make up the tightly packed florets in a head of cauliflower, whereas chill and frost bring out its sweeter side. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. In Ontario, the crop comes into season at the end of August and can last into Thanksgiving. Cauliflower contains a wealth of fiber and choline, along with powerful phytochemical compounds indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates. These health promoting nutrients make incorporating cauliflower into your daily diet a smart strategy to protect against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Selecting Fresh Cauliflower
Cauliflower is in season during the fall, although it is available throughout most of the winter. Look for firm, tight heads without bruises or brown spots, with evenly coloured ivory or cream florets. A few varieties of cauliflower have a green or purple tinge, which is natural and does not change the taste. If any leaves remain, they should be green and fresh looking. Heads that are surrounded by many thick green leaves are better protected and will be fresher. As its size is not related to its quality, choose one that best suits your needs. Avoid cauliflower with loosely packed or spreading florets. It is acceptable if a few green shoots are showing among the florets, or if the florets look a little grainy or bristly.
Store cauliflower in a loose, perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you do not use the entire head, plan to eat the remaining florets within a day. Or, you may freeze them, first blanching them in lightly salted water for about 3 minutes, draining, and then putting them in rigid containers or plastic bags in the freezer for up to 1 year. Once cooked, cauliflower keeps for only 1 or 2 days in the refrigerator.
Remove any leaves from the stem end of the head, separate the head into florets and rinse under cold running water. Trim off any brown spots. Cauliflower can be cooked whole as well and the florets separated after cooking. Steam or boil cauliflower until tender and toss with a little butter or lemon juice, or combine with other vegetables, before serving.
Tip: Adding a few drops of lemon juice or a little milk to the cooking water helps cauliflower retain its creamy white color.
As with cabbage, unfortunately there is no way to prevent an odour from emanating from the cauliflower during cooking. Cut cauliflower into small florets, cook them quickly, and turn on exhaust fans and open windows to disperse any unwanted smells.
Did you know the stem and leaves of cauliflower are edible too? They are especially good for adding to soup stocks.
Other Uses for Cauliflower
There has been significant traction in recent months with cauliflower being utilized as a substitute in diets requiring low gluten or no gluten at all. The vegetable has a natural ability to adopt whatever flavours are supported in the dish. Common substitutions are as follows:
- Cauliflower based pizza crust
- Potatoes – in any application from shepherd’s pie to straight mashed to breakfast hash browns
- With couscous
- As breading or crumbs on fried foods
- In quiche
We have also provided below a great pasta recipe using cauliflower in our weekly email news releae. We have tested the recipe and it checks out for taste and authenticity to Italian flavours.
In reality, this blog is your blog as we write it to be read. We hope you get some valuable information and benefit from reading it each week.
We welcome your feedback! This blog is your blog as we write it to be read. We hope you get some valuable information and benefit from reading it each week. Let us know what you think! You can leave a comment right here on the site or head on over and join in the conversation on Facebook (remember to ‘Like’ the page) and Twitter – (don’t forget to follow us there too).
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Till next time,