Green veggies get most of the love these days and, while they’re great additions to a healthy diet, cauliflower deserves just as much recognition. Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, this pale produce offers tons of fiber and vitamins plus pretty good doses of potassium and folate. And it’s only 27 calories per chopped cup. Cauliflower is also remarkably versatile, shining in some tasty preparations you probably wouldn’t expect. Start getting more of this all-star veggie in your diet with these five recipes.
1. Garlic Roasted Chicken With Cauliflower Purée
Nutritionists like to tell their clients to avoid white foods to make sure they’re eating a wide variety of produce. The advice is meant to be an easy way to avoid loading up on simple carbs like white bread, pasta, and mashed potatoes. But when it comes to fruits and vegetables, a pale hue may actually mean great nutrition. A 2011 study in Stroke divided fruits and vegetables into different color categories and found white produce to be the best for reducing the risk of stroke.
Cauliflower is particularly great for carb addicts because it can mimic mashed potatoes for a lot fewer calories. Try it out with this garlicky chicken over creamy cauliflower from Simply Delicious. It has all the flavors of one of your favorite Sunday dinners, but also provides you with a serving of vegetables.
- 4 to 6 fresh chicken leg portions, both thigh and drumstick
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 6 garlic heads, tops cut off
- 1 large or 2 medium cauliflower heads, cut into florets
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
- Steamed vegetables
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper and arrange in an ovenproof baking dish. Scatter the herbs and garlic over the chicken, then dot with 2 tablespoons butter, breaking it into small pieces and distributing evenly over the chciken.
Transfer dish to the oven and bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until garlic is soft and chicken is nearly cooked. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until chicken is golden on the outside and just cooked through. Remove from oven and let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower using a steamer set over a pot of simmering water or a placing cauliflower in a saucepan with a small amount of simmering water. Cook until cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife. Purée cauliflower with butter using a blender or a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper. Serve mashed cauliflower with chicken, roasted garlic, and steamed vegetables.
2. Cauliflower Steak au Poivre
Even for meatless meals, it’s rare for a vegetable to be the star ingredient. Cauliflower can pull it off. If you cut it into thick wedges and sear it like a piece of meat, it turns into a vegetarian-friendly steak. Jax House took it all the way there by giving the cooked cauliflower the au poivre treatment. This meal is a little lacking in protein, though, so consider serving the steaks with a white bean salad.
Though most people try to incorporate a few meatless meals into their diet every week as a way to better health, this strategy can also benefit the environment. Research published in Science of the Total Environment revealed livestock production is the largest contributor to habitat loss, climate change, soil loss, and water pollution. If everyone were to dig into a cauliflower steak instead of a beef one more often, we might be able to keep our planet a bit healthier.
- 2 (1-inch-thick) top-to-bottom slices of cauliflower
- ¼ cup freshly cracked peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons cognac or other brandy
- ¾ cup vegetable broth
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place peppercorns on a plate. Lightly brush cauliflower slices with olive oil, then coat with peppercorns, pressing to adhere.
Heat remaining oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in an ovenproof skillet. Add cauliflower to the pan and cook without moving for 2 minutes. Transfer skillet oven and roast for 10 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and continue to roast for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove cauliflower to a plate and set aside. Add cognac to the pan, then return pan to medium heat on the stove. Be careful, the skillet may flame. Let the cognac reduce a bit, stir in the broth, and season with salt. Reduce by half, then finish sauce with remaining butter. Immediately pour sauce over cauliflower steaks and serve.
3. Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad
Protein gets a lot of attention as an all-star nutrient, but it would be a mistake to ignore fiber because it can also help keep you full while maintaining a healthy digestive system. For a triple dose of this satisfying nutrient, try Epicurious’s grain salad made with barley, cauliflower, and beans. It’s as flavorful as it is healthy and leftovers make a great lunch.
If you need more convincing to up your fiber intake, consider how it can benefit your heart. The American Journal of Cardiology published a study in 2014 that examined the relationship between fiber consumption and cardiovascular disease, finding those with the highest intake are significantly less prone to heart problems.
- ½ cup pearled barley
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cauliflower head, cut into florets
- 1 (15-ounce) can gigante, corona, or butter beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, divided
Directions: Add barley to a large saucepan and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Cook until barley is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon, and 5 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower and cook, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook until cauliflower is just tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl. Add beans, ¼ cup parsley, 1 tablespoon tarragon, barley, and half of the dressing. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper.
Divide salad among bowls and drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish with lemon zest, remaining parsley, and remaining tarragon. Serve.
4. Lasagna with Spicy Roasted Cauliflower
Lasagna is usually a rich meal we only indulge in a few times per year, but you can make it pretty healthy by using a reasonable amount of cheese and replacing the fatty meat with cauliflower. Try the method with The New York Times’s vegetarian lasagna. This simple swap slashes the calories without compromising flavor. It’s also a perfect dish to make ahead. Just assemble the lasagna, pop it in the fridge, then transfer it to the oven for 40 to 50 minutes the evening you want to eat it.
- 1½ pounds cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cups marinara sauce or canned tomatoes
- 7 to 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Trim stem and leaves from cauliflower. Cut into ⅓-inch-thick slices, letting florets fall off. Toss slices and florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, spreading into a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes, flipping large slices after 8 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife and small florets have browned. Remove from oven, toss with red pepper flakes, and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix ricotta with water or stock and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Oil a rectangular baking dish and spread a spoonful of marinara over the bottom. Top with a single layer of lasagna noodles, then a thin layer of the ricotta. Top with a layer of cauliflower, followed by marinara, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of noodles topped with marinara and Parmesan.
5. Curried Shrimp and Cauliflower
Cauliflower florets are fantastic even when they’re not roasted to a golden brown because they do a great job of soaking up any sauce. This is especially true with Martha Stewart’s shrimp and cauliflower curry. While it’s delicious as written, feel free to dress up this dish with some fresh cilantro, scallions, or mint.
Though the number of new diabetes cases is finally on the decline in the U.S., we still have a long ways to go. Eating more meals like this curry could ward off the disease. Both non-starchy vegetables, such as cauliflower, and a type of compound found in one of the most common curry spices have been linked to a lower risk of diabetes. It’s hard to beat a meal that’s delicious and healthy.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- White rice
Directions: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in cauliflower and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until cauliflower is just tender, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp, cover, and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with rice.