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Learn to Love Cauliflower

Learn to Love Cauliflower

Cauliflower Basics

In Season: Cauliflower season begins in October and extends through April. However, many markets carry it year-round.

What to Look For: Look for creamy white, unblemished heads with tight florets and fresh-looking leaves. In season, cauliflower can also be found with bright-orange or purple florets.

How to Store: When wrapped tightly in plastic, cauliflower heads can be refrigerated for three to five days.

Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

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Roasted Cauliflower with Herbed Breadcrumbs

Cauliflower becomes tender and sweet after roasting. Crispy breadcrumbs flavored with lemon zest, thyme, and garlic make this a knockout side dish with fish or steak.

1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into florets
2 tablespoons plus 2 more tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 slices white sandwich bread
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Grated zest of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On two large baking sheets, toss 1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into florets, with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Roast until tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine 2 slices white sandwich bread and 1 garlic clove, chopped; season with salt and pepper. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add breadcrumbs and cook, tossing frequently, until toasted, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, and the grated zest of 1 lemon.

3. Toss cauliflower with juice of the lemon and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Related: Delicious Desserts in 15 Minutes or Less

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Cauliflower with Golden Raisins and Almonds

Roasted cauliflower gets bursts of sweetness from raisins, and rich crunch from toasted almonds. A drizzle of sherry vinegar livens things up.

1/2 cup golden raisins
2 heads cauliflower, cores removed, cut into florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup roughly chopped raw almonds
2 tablespoons sherry or cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 425, with racks in middle and lower third. Place raisins in a measuring cup and cover with very hot water. Arrange cauliflower on two rimmed baking sheets. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes.

2. Turn cauliflower and top with almonds. Bake until cauliflower is browned and tender and almonds are toasted, 10 minutes. Drain raisins. Transfer cauliflower to a serving dish; top with raisins and drizzle with sherry vinegar.

Related: 47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

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Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce

Cauliflower with cheese sauce is a perennial favorite. Choose nutty Gruyere, creamy fontina, or tangy goat cheese to blend into this simple, creamy sauce.

2 cups Bechamel Sauce
2 cups shredded Gruyere or fontina cheese or crumbled fresh goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. Let bechamel cool 10 minutes, then whisk in cheese, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne. Cover cheese sauce and keep warm.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower, with extra-virgin olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Roast until tender but not mushy, 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Serve cauliflower topped with cheese sauce.

Related: 22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes

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Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Parsley, and Breadcrumbs

Cauliflower is roasted with red onion and garlic then tossed with corkscrew pasta and topped with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. It takes only 10 minutes of prep time to make this satisfying vegetarian main dish.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cored and broken into small florets
1 medium red onion, halved and cut into thin wedges
5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
4 slices white sandwich bread
12 ounces cavatappi or other short pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cook’s Note
Cauliflower tastes surprisingly nutty and sweet when roasted. Break it up into small florets to help it cook quickly. We like cavatappi, but any short pasta will work.

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower, onion, and garlic with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast on lower rack until lightly browned and tender, 20 minutes, tossing once.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine bread and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake on upper rack until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes, tossing once.

3. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Add cauliflower mixture, Parmesan, and parsley; toss to combine. Tossing pasta, gradually add enough pasta water to form a thin sauce that coats pasta. Serve topped with breadcrumbs and, if desired, more Parmesan.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Manchego Hand Pies

A flavorful sauce of hazelnuts, lemon zest, garlic, and rosemary complements roasted cauliflower and manchego cheese in these impressive pies. Serve as a dinner party main dish or a comforting lunch.

1 small head cauliflower, florets separated and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Cheese Short Crust
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
All-purpose flour, for work surface
5 ounces Manchego cheese, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 large egg yolk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cauliflower with 3 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Flip cauliflower; roast 5 minutes more. Let cool.

2. Put nuts and garlic in a food processor. With processor running, slowly add remaining 4 tablespoons oil until mixture is finely chopped. Add lemon zest and 1 teaspoon rosemary; season with salt and pepper. Process until combined.

3. Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 8 rounds, 4 inches each. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread 2 teaspoons hazelnut mixture onto each round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Divide cauliflower among rounds. Top with cheese and remaining teaspoon rosemary, dividing evenly; sprinkle with pepper. Whisk cream and egg yolk in a small bowl. Brush edges of dough with egg wash. Set aside.

4. Roll out remaining dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 8 rounds, 4 inches each. Cut out 8 flowers with a small flower-shaped cookie cutter from scraps. Place a dough round on top of each pie; gently press edges with a fork to seal. Brush crusts with egg wash; place a flower on each pie. Brush flowers with egg wash. Refrigerate until cold, about 20 minutes. Bake until crust is golden brown, 30 to 32 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Orecchiette with Cauliflower

This easy pasta dinner calls for cauliflower, anchovies, and red-pepper flakes, a trio of ingredients often combined in classic Italian cooking. If you don’t have orecchiette on hand, use penne or any other short pasta shape.

1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 to 3 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 5 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; add cauliflower. Cook until pasta is al dente and cauliflower is tender, 5 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Drain pasta mixture; set aside.

2. In same pot, heat oil over medium; add garlic, red-pepper flakes, and anchovies. Cook, breaking up anchovies with a spoon, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add pasta mixture, cheese, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, adding more cooking liquid if necessary to thin sauce. Add parsley; toss. Serve, topped with additional cheese, if desired.

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