Well Being

Move Over, Kale: Winter’s Newest “It” Vegetable Is … Cauliflower?

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Cauliflower coconut bisque. Photo and recipe via www.EatLiveRun.com

Cauliflower coconut bisque. Photo & recipe via www.EatLiveRun.com

Is cauliflower “the new kale?” Joy Manning of the Philadelphia Inquirer makes the case that it is, bolstered by the cruciferous vegetable's sudden appearance on trendy, seasonal menus around her city.

“For too long a single (vegetable) has hogged the cold-weather culinary spotlight,” Manning writes. She means kale, of course, though it seems a tad strange—quintessential winter produce conjures things like squash, sweet potatoes and root veggies for me.

But kale's around; why quibble? It's being deposed from its seasonal spotlight anyway, according to Manning. “Suddenly cauliflower is looking like the ‘it' vegetable of 2013.”

There’s good reason to embrace broccoli’s pale cousin. Cauliflower has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and it’s much more versatile than a leafy green like kale. Fried, roasted, braised, baked, steamed, sautéed, or pureed into a soup, cauliflower takes well to almost any cooking method. And from a nutrition point of view, it stacks up favorably to other superfoods like kale. It’s high in folate, vitamin C, and sulforaphane, a beneficial compound that may protect against cancer.

I'll give her that cauliflower is healthy, but versatile? It's not the first (or 10th) vegetable I'd use that adjective to describe. I've long loved cauliflower—it was one of the few fresh veggies I'd eat as a kid, probably owing the fact that my mom smothered them in Velveeta (fortunately my taste for it has withstood the witholding of processed cheese sauce). But cauliflower is that vegetable you eat because it's on veggie trays and in the steamer bag with broccoli and carrots. Cauliflower is always a bridesmaid. A supporting actor. A thing that soaks up dip.

Only the Philly restaurant items she lists show otherwise. Roasted cauliflower “steak” with toasted almond, caper, parsley and golden raisin. Cauliflower with black garlic pesto, spring onion and tarragon. Fried cauliflower with broccoli rabe, Parmesan cheese and anchovy-garlic.

Cauliflower steaks with ginger soy sauce. Recipe & photo via www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

Cauliflower steaks with ginger soy sauce. Recipe & photo via www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

I've yet to take note of increased cauliflower presence on menus around NYC, but I'll be looking for it now. Do share any cauliflower menu sightings in your area—or unusual/favorite cauliflower recipes—in the comments. In the mean time, here are 10 versatile, cauliflower recipes culled from the Pinterestsphere:

1. Cauliflower steaks with ginger soy sauce. GET THE RECIPE, via Two Peas and Their Pod

2. Cauliflower curry. GET THE RECIPE, via Cook Republic

3. Lemon, herb & cauliflower bean dip. GET THE RECIPE, via Edible Perspective

4. Cauliflower crust garlic breadsticks. GET THE RECIPE,   via An Edible Mosaic

5. Creamy cauliflower bacon soup. GET THE RECIPE, via Savory Simple

Cauliflower crust breadsticks

Cauliflower crust garlic breadsticks. Recipe & photo via www.anediblemosaic.com

6. Masala cauliflower. GET THE RECIPE, via Food Done Light

7. Cauliflower coconut bisque. GET THE RECIPE, via Eat Live Run

8. Turkey cauliflower paleo chowder. GET THE RECIPE, via Popular Paleo

9. Hummus-crusted cauliflower steaks. GET THE RECIPE, via Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

10. Twice-baked cauliflower with cauliflower-leaf pesto. GET THE RECIPE, via Mother Nature Network