For the Love of Cauliflower!

IMG_0221I admit it. I’m in love. It’s a great love. One that I expect will continue to excite me for years to come. Hopefully one that will be full of different colors, spices, and flavors. A love that makes me excited because it’s easy, yet will always bring exciting moments to the table. Yes, I’m in love with cauliflower and I don’t care who knows it!

I’ve been lucky enough to plant cauliflower at the farm I’m working at, watch it grow, and eat it. There’s nothing that is more satisfying (well not too many things.) To see those little white pillows hiding in those huge collard like leaves which you then wrap into a ponytail until the big day comes when it’s time to eat it – it’s like playing hide and go seek with your food.

Not only is it fun to plant, tend to, and harvest, but it’s also fun to eat. Especially those big leaves! Before working at the farm, I never knew how delicious those leaves were. Why would they take them off when they sell cauliflower at the supermarket? I don’t know! (Note: Both recipes below call for cauliflower leaves, however if you can only get cauliflower at the supermarket sans leaves – don’t fret! You can use collard greens or kale as a replacement).

And if I wasn’t making you excited enough for some cauliflower recipes, it’s really good for you too (of course!) Since it resembles your brain, it benefits your brain as a good source of choline and Vitamin B, both needed for brain development. It also contains sulforaphane, which has been shown to kill cancer stem cells and slow tumor growth. That same sulforaphane improve blood pressure and kidney function. It’s a known anti-inflammatory which helps calm your immune system and reduce your chances of suffering from countless inflammatory related diseases. And if that wasn’t enough, it also supports your digestive system by detoxifying and providing a good dose of fiber to keep things running smoothly. It’s packed full of vitamins including 77% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C among other vitamins such as vitamin K, thiamin, magnesium, and potassium. See, healthy things are delicious!

Below are two recipes that I’ve made recently with my CSA share. They’re both delicious and will satisfy your hunger despite being vegetarian. Cauliflower is such a hearty vegetable that you don’t even realize you’re not eating meat!

IMG_0222Roasted Cauliflower with Arugula Pesto Pasta

This recipe came about because I needed to use arugula and cauliflower, but I was craving pasta. Presto! Arugula pesto mixed with roasted cauliflower. It’s extremely satisfying. You even get a few doses of your greens for the day – all while eating pasta! It’s like a cheat day, but not!

1/2 lb Fresh Arugula
2 cloves garlic
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
Head and leaves of cauliflower (if you’re getting it at a farmer’s market you’ll have lots of huge, beautiful leaves)
Smoked paprika
1 lb whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup Parmigianno Regiano
6 very thinly sliced pancetta pieces (If you’re vegetarian, feel free to leave this out, I won’t know!)

First roughly chop (into bite size pieces) a whole head of cauliflower, leaves and everything. (If you don’t have cauliflower leaves, chop up collard greens or kale). Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the leaves are crisp and the cauliflower is cooked through.

On another baking sheet, lay thin slices of the pancetta on the sheet and bake until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes). Be aware that it will smoke, so put some fans on!

Bring a pot up to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dante. Drain, reserving a 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the arugla, garlic, Parmigianno Regiano, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil until the mixture comes together to a thick paste.

In a bowl, combine the pasta and pesto. Add a little of the pasta cooking water until the pesto is loosened up enough to coat the pasta. Add the cauliflower, leaves, and crumbled bruschetta. Top with extra cheese if you want!

 

Cauliflower SoupCauliflower Soup 

During our honeymoon in Italy, my husband and I had the best cauliflower soup we’ve ever had. Well it was the first time he’s ever tried it, but it won him over. It was delicate, smooth, and not overpowering. I’ve been trying to recreate it and I think I’ve come pretty close with the below recipe. Of course, I’ve put my own spin on it, making it super healthy (no cream here) without losing any of the flavor.

 

3 tablespoons olive oil
medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
Salt, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop up the leaves of the cauliflower (you can use collards or kale instead). Toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bake for 15 minutes until the leaves are crisp.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat. Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil (I like to use chipolte flavored oil), freshly ground black pepper, the cauliflower “chips” and toasted whole wheat bread cut in cubes.

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