Cauliflower Basics: Picking, Storing, Nutrition and Healthy, Oil-Free Vegan Recipes

Here are Cauliflower Basic Essentials: How to pick, store, and cook healthy, oil-free vegan recipes.  When to choose organic. Plus, nutrition information on this delicious fresh vegetable.

Fresh Cauliflower is a delicious, healthy vegetable. Bake, steam , or roast it for your favorite oil-free vegan recipes

Fresh Cauliflower is a delicious, healthy vegetable. Bake, steam , or roast it for your favorite oil-free vegan recipes

Cauliflower Rainbow: You might see yellow, green, or even purple cauliflower at farmer's markets. These colors come from the different antioxidants and make a beautiful presentation when cooked

Cauliflower Rainbow: You might see yellow, green, or even purple cauliflower at farmer's markets. These colors come from the different antioxidants and make a beautiful presentation when cooked

Chef's Plant-Based Tip:  Green cauliflower keeps its color, even after cooking.  Simply steam a few minutes, until a knife can easily glide in and out. 

Chef's Plant-Based Tip:  Green cauliflower keeps its color, even after cooking.  Simply steam a few minutes, until a knife can easily glide in and out. 

Chef's Plant-Based Tip: Trim Cauliflower florets into bite-sized pieces.  Add to stir-fry, stews, or even chili for hearty, satisfying texture

Chef's Plant-Based Tip: Trim Cauliflower florets into bite-sized pieces.  Add to stir-fry, stews, or even chili for hearty, satisfying texture

Chef's Plant-Based Tip: Roast cauliflower florets to use in hearty grain bowls or over salad

Chef's Plant-Based Tip: Roast cauliflower florets to use in hearty grain bowls or over salad

Chef's Low-Calorie Tip: Shred cauliflower in the food processor to use in place of rice for healthy, plant-based stir-fry recipes

Chef's Low-Calorie Tip: Shred cauliflower in the food processor to use in place of rice for healthy, plant-based stir-fry recipes

Chef's Low Calorie Tip:  Mash cauliflower in with your regular mashed potatoes.  This increases the nutrition benefits, cuts the calories, and adds depth of flavor

Chef's Low Calorie Tip:  Mash cauliflower in with your regular mashed potatoes.  This increases the nutrition benefits, cuts the calories, and adds depth of flavor

 

Quick Reference Pin:

Cauliflower 101 - Healthy Infographic Pin for Season, How to Choose, Store, Cook, and Nutrition

Cauliflower Basics

Seasons:  

  • Fall: Technically September - November is Cauliflower season, but you can usually get it year-round

Choosing: 

  • Firm, Clean: Cauliflower heads should be compact, firm, and generally clean
  • Avoid the Brown:  Avoid cauliflower with bruises or browning.  This is a sign of mis-handled, older cauliflower
  • Colors:  You might see yellow, green, or even purple cauliflower at farmer's markets.  These colors come from the different antioxidants and make a beautiful presentation when cooked
  • Organic?  It's up to you.   Cauliflower is one of the least-sprayed vegetables when it comes to pesticides and herbicides.  It's naturally bitter flavor isn't very appealing to pests.  While organic is always a better choice for the environment, there isn't much flavor difference.  It's up to you and your budget if you want to pay for organic cauliflower

Storing:

  • Refrigerate for 5 Days:  Keep cauliflower wrapped in the refrigerator.  Eat within 5 days.
  • Freezing:  You'll want to steam or boil cauliflower florets before freezing or canning.  Simply boil or steam until knife tender and drain.  Store in an air-tight plastic bag (removing as much air as possible) for freezing.

How to Clean and Cook:

  • How to Clean: Rinse cauliflower under running water.  If particularly dirty, submerge in a bowl of water and "swish" around, letting the sediment sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  • How to Trim: It's easiest to first cut your head of cauliflower in half.  Then, split open.  Use a knife (or even your hands), to separate the florets from the leaves and thick stalk.
  • How to Cook:
    • Steam, boil, or roast cauliflower until knife-glide tender.  Use cooked florets in stir-fry, pasta dishes, loaded baked potatoes, and grain salads.  
    • Cauliflower Steaks: Slice 1-inch-thick big cauliflower "steaks" to grill
    • Cauliflower Mash:  Mash cauliflower into mashed potatoes. 
    • Cauliflower Rice: Grate cauliflower in the food processor and use in place of rice for low-calorie stir-fry
    • Cauliflower Raw: Use raw cauliflower florets in salads, serve with hummus as an appetizer, or shred for slaw.
  • Use in Vegetable Stock?  NO.  Cruciferous  vegetables like cauliflower release sulfur when boiled or steamed for too long.  Sulfur smells like rotten eggs and does not have an appetizing flavor.  Don't use cauliflower trimmings in vegetable stock.

Nutrition (help from the World's Healthiest Foods)

  • Fat Free, Cholesterol Free, Low Sodium
  • Low Calorie: Only 29 calories per cup of cauliflower
  • Excellent Source of: Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6
  • Very Good Source of: Fiber, Manganese, Phosphorous, Choline, Biotin, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Good Source of: Vitamin B1, B2, B3, Magnesium, Potassium, and Protein
  • Antioxidant Phytonutrient Power:
    • Cardiovascular Health - Like other cruciferous vegetables, B-vitamins in cauliflower is linked to reducing LDL cholesterol, risk of stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis
    • Colorectal, Prostate Cancer - Shown to have the same or even benefit than broccoli in preventing these diseases
    • How much?  Just 1 cups a week is linked to these health benefits
    • Frozen or Fresh?  Frozen cauliflower still retains much of its nutritional benefits, even after a year of freezing 
  • Cauliflower Relatives:  Cauliflower is part of the Cruciferous family.  It's relatives include broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli rabe.

Healthy, Oil-Free Plant-Based Cauliflower Recipes