Fresh Sheet…Cauliflower

When the dietitian folk talk about eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies, cauliflower seems like it might get left out in the cold. Cauliflower certainly falls into the under-appreciated category in the vegetable world. Of course, the artsy among us might note that white is actually a pretty nuanced shade and when it comes to the nutrition benefits of cauliflower, the complexity far outshines its seemingly pale complexion. There are plenty of subtle flavours just waiting to be coaxed out of this humble veggie.

Cauliflower is a member of the super-nutritious cruciferous vegetable or brassica family. Glucosinolates, compounds also found in kale and broccoli, help support your liver’s ability to detoxify harmful substances in the blood. Anti-oxidant vitamin C, manganese and quercetin further strengthen your body’s defences against city living and stressful lives.

The name cauli-flower is a variation of cole flower or kale flower; all cruciferous veggies are descendant from colewort, an ancient loose-leafed wild cabbage. Colewort buds became brussel sprouts, its flowers became broccoli and cauliflower, its leaves became kale and collard greens. The stem was transformed into kohlrabi and its root turned into the turnip

Did you know: The compact head of a cauliflower is called a curd and is composed of undeveloped flower buds; cauliflower is white because the coarse green leaves around the curd protect it from sunlight, which inhibits the development of chlorophyll. 

When shopping for cauliflower, choose ones with a clean, creamy white compact curd and thick green leaves. Store in the original plastic bag with the stem side down to reduce moisture damage. When it comes to cooking, roasting beautifully develops a toasted, nutty flavour in cauliflower and be sure to keep those stems…add them to your soup stock bag in the freezer. To preserve phytonutrients, don’t overcook.

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Gremolata
Makes 4-6 servings as a side dish.

1 head of cauliflower
oil, salt and pepper

Preheat barbecue to medium heat.
Prepare the cauliflower by trimming away the leaves and a small amount of the stem, but do not remove the stem completely. Stand the cauliflower upright on its stem and using a large sharp knife, cut down the centre of the cauliflower. Keeping the cauliflower upright, cut a 1 inch thick slice off both sides of the cauliflower. These are cauliflower steaks. The rest of the cauliflower can be reserved for another use.

Alternatively, you can create cauliflower kabobs to be grilled with the steaks if you have more guests for dinner. To do this, cut the remaining cauliflower portions into florets and thread onto metal skewers. Brush both sides of the cauliflower steaks with a little oil. If using, brush the cauliflower kabobs as well.

Place the cauliflower steaks on the grill, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Gently flip the cauliflower and grill for another 8 minutes or until both sides are lightly browned and tender. Grill cauliflower kabobs for 8 minutes or until tender, turning halfway through. Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata.

zest from 1 lemon, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients on the cutting board and use your knife in chopping and swishing motions to mix the ingredients and blend flavours. You can also mix the ingredients together in a small bowl. Brush or sprinkle gremolata over grilled cauliflower steaks and kabobs.


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