7 Creative Tips: How to Cook Cauliflower That Actually Taste Delicious

Cauliflower is a somewhat underrated vegetable waiting to be discovered by home chefs. This unpretentious offering from the cabbage family has a subtle favor that blends nicely with different spices. It can add different kinds of texture as well, from crunchy in salads to creamy and smooth in soups and casseroles. In spite of its versatility, many people avoid it because they don’t know how to cook cauliflower.

In fact, there are many different ways to enjoy cauliflower, and recipes from around the world that you can try. You can bake, steam, or grill it, add it to a Chinese stir fry or an Indian curry, use it in soups and casseroles, and eat it raw in a salad.

So if you always wanted to know how to cook cauliflower but were afraid to ask, this guide is for you.

Reintroducing Cauliflower: A Versatile and Tasty Vegetable

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Spicy, crunchy, seared, creamy. These might not be the words you associate with cauliflower. In fact, it’s easy to overlook cauliflower altogether when you’re looking for a flavorful vegetable. When it’s cooked right, cauliflower is one of the tastiest vegetables around.

There are many different ways how to cook cauliflower, from Chinese stir fry to creamy soups and casseroles. One of the things that makes cauliflower such a versatile vegetable is that it doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own.

This means that it picks up the flavors and spices you give it. The trick is to learn how to cook cauliflower to blend the subtle flavor of the vegetable with the spices and flavors of different styles of cooking.

Cultures around the world have adopted this humble vegetable, coating it in batter and deep-frying it for tempura in Japanese cuisine, mixing it with potatoes and peas for a delicious North Indian curry, and searing it on the grill to go with a barbecue. It adds a great taste to soups and casseroles as well, and pairs well with seafood and chicken.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Like other vegetables, cauliflower is a good source of nutrients, fiber and other good stuff that you need. It’s full of potassium and vitamin C, and it’s low in sodium and calories.

Cauliflower Buying Tips

The most commonly available type of cauliflower is the one with white florets, but you can also find pink, orange, green and purple ones. You don’t have to worry about artificial colors, either. The white florets are from plants where the leaves completely cover them during growth, preventing the development of pigmentation.

So you can buy any color you’d like, and experiment with colors as well as tastes in different dishes. When buying cauliflower, look for a curd (this is what the head is called) with tightly packed florets without any spaces, and leaves that cover the top. Avoid cauliflower where the florets have started turning brown, or where you see brown spots on the leaves and stem.

With colored florets, brighter colors are better. Cauliflower will keep fresh for five to seven days. It should be stored in its original packaging or in a plastic bag.

How to Cook Cauliflower in 7 Creative Ways

Cauliflower head with leaves attached next to a pot with a wooden spoon in it.
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There are plenty of cauliflower recipes for you to try. The list below is by no means comprehensive, and there are many other recipes for you to discover, like buffalo hot “wings”, cauliflower frittata, cauliflower au gratin and cauliflower pizza crust. But first, you need to prepare the vegetable for cooking.

How to Prepare Cauliflower for Cooking

Remove the leaves and stem. If they are very fresh, they can be cooked, but if not, they should be discarded. Cut the curd at the stems, then break the florets apart into bite-sized pieces. Rinse thoroughly under running water.

7 Creative Ways to Cook Cauliflower

cheesy noodle cauliflower dish

Here are seven creative ways how to cook cauliflower, but you don’t need to stop here. Treat these as the beginning of a new culinary adventure.

1. Bake It in a Casserole

Adding cauliflower to any casserole gives it a delicious touch of flavor and texture. Try the recipe for a creamy cauliflower casserole below.

2. Steam It for a Healthy Side

Steaming vegetables is a healthy and practical choice. It’s one of the easiest ways how to cook cauliflower. You can steam any amount, but if you do a large pan full, you can keep them in the fridge to use through the week.

To steam cauliflower, start by bringing a few inches of water to the boil. Then add the steamer tray and fill it with the florets. Cover the pan and steam for about ten minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Steamed vegetables don’t need much seasoning. You can add salt and pepper, and if you like, your favorite herbs like basil or parsley.

3. Grilled and Seared

If you haven’t eaten grilled, roasted or seared cauliflower, you have been missing out. You can grill cauliflower and any other vegetables in the oven or on the grill. You will need the grill to get those delicious sear marks though.

To grill cauliflower in the oven, preheat to 400 F. Season the cauliflower florets with salt, pepper and caraway seeds, and toss in olive oil. Place them on a baking tray, making sure they are evenly spaced. Roast for about 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown in color.

4. Add to a Soup for Creamy Flavor

cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage in the supermarket.
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Another super-easy way how to cook cauliflower is to add it to a vegetable soup. Mix it with potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and any other vegetables you’d like in a large saucepan — along with vegetable or chicken broth — heavy cream and evaporated milk. Then, simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. You can also add some garlic, salt and pepper for flavor.

You can serve it as it is if you like finding solid chunks of vegetables in your soup (we do). Or you can put in a blender and puree to an even consistency. Garnish with shredded cheddar chives and serve hot.

5. Cook with Potatoes and Peas for a Spicy Curry

This dish is a North Indian favorite, and the recipe is given below. For now we’ll just say that the combination of cauliflower, potatoes and peas with aromatic spices, served with different varieties of bread, is a surefire crowd pleaser.

6. Toss in a Crunchy Salad

Cauliflower florets add a nice crunch to any salad recipe. No cooking needed! You can try different combinations of vegetables and dressing. Cauliflower adds a nice touch to a bean salad as well. Try using kidney beans, white fava beans and green beans.

It doesn’t matter what vinaigrette you use, but it’s a good idea to let it sit for a while before serving, so the flavor can be absorbed in the florets. Fresh, raw cauliflower is a fun variant for a dip, along with other veggies like carrots and celery.

7. Stir Fry in Chinese Style Dishes

Cauliflower is a good ingredient for a Chinese stir fry, on its own or combined with with other vegetables or meats. It might not seem easy, but a stir fry actually has some very basic ingredients and steps.

You need a wok, oil, and salt and the three basic spices – spring onions, ginger and garlic. These should be fresh. If you’re planning to use some meat, like beef or chicken, it should be partially cooked, because it will be in the wok only for a short while.

Place the wok on the flame on high and add two to four tablespoons of oil. Let it heat up a little and then add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and cook until their fragrance is released. Then add the vegetables you want to cook, along with salt.

If the vegetables or meat start sticking, it’s ok to add a little water. You can make the sauce more complicated with more ingredients, but the basics are really this simple. If you want to add soy sauce, do it towards the end.

Some Favorite Cauliflower Recipes to Try

Here are two of our favorite cauliflower recipes. Both are staples of home cooking from different parts of the world and showcase the versatility and taste of cauliflower.

via GIPHY

Aloo Mattar Gobhi

This is a basic North Indian recipe and most families have some Aloo Mattar Gobhi stashed away in the fridge at all times. Typically served with Indian breads or rice, it can also be a delicious snack on toast or in a croissant sandwich.

Ingredients

2 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 medium cauliflower curd, broken into florets
1 bag frozen peas
Minced garlic, 4 cloves
Minced ginger, 2 teaspoons
Small onion, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Turmeric, red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon each
Ground coriander, ground cumin, curry powder (or garam masala) – 1 teaspoon each
Cooking oil, 1/2 tablespoon

Start by sauteing the chopped onion in the cooking oil on medium to high heat in a deep saucepan. When the pieces start to turn translucent, add the minced ginger and garlic and continue cooking until brown. Add the potatoes, cauliflower, tomato and spices, and mix all together.

Continue cooking, stirring frequently to keep the vegetables and spices from sticking or burning. After about five minutes, add one cup of water and bring it a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer and cover the pan loosely. Cook for ten minutes. Add the frozen peas and turn up the heat until the curry boils. Turn the heat back down and cover the pot again. Simmer until all the vegetables are fully cooked. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

If your mother or someone else in your family is a good cook, chances are that you remember this soothing comfort food. It’s also ridiculously easy to make.

Ingredients

Florets from 1 medium cauliflower curd
Red and green pepper (optional) 1/4 cup each
Carrots 1/4 cup
Small onion, diced
Sour cream, 1 cup
Shredded cheddar (or any other cheese), 1 cup
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup

To precook the cauliflower and carrots, boil water in a saucepan and then add the vegetables. Simmer for five to ten minutes or until the vegetables are crisp and tender. Drain the water and put the cauliflower and carrots in a large bowl.

Add sour cream, cheddar cheese, peppers, and salt and mix. Place this mixture in a greased baking dish and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and paprika on top. Bake uncovered at 325F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Conclusion

cooked cauliflower dish on a black plate

Now that you know the basics of how to cook cauliflower, you can go ahead and experiment with different recipes and flavors. You can ask your family and friends to help you with some taste tests, and be sure of their appreciation.

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