Cauliflower: A Classy Comeback

Move over kale, cauliflower is in town and she’s looking mighty fine. In the past year, cauliflower has edged itself to the front of the plate, showcasing a versatility long overshadowed by its green cousin, broccoli. Today, cauliflower is all grown-up and more charming than ever. Gone are the days of steaming and boiling it to a pulp; cauliflower is exceptionally adaptable with a unique texture that absorbs flavour, and serves as an excellent gluten free, dairy free, low-carb substitute. Plus, it’s edible raw, cooked, and pickled.

Chefs and home cooks are having a heyday (re)discovering cauliflower’s abilities; mashing, roasting, baking and even thickening soups with it (Example: have you ever had cauliflower cake?).

And yet, for how long has this understated vegetable remained in the shadows? Too long if you ask me. Cauliflower is both lovely in form and delicious to eat. It seems that, of all people, Mark Twain) was able to appreciate the cauliflower’s sophisication when he wrote: “Training is everything … cauliflower is nothing more than cabbage with a college education.”


Cauliflower in the Victorian-American era was not just any old vegetable — it took years of culitivation to establish its shape and color, nor was it cheap as cabbage (a staple in many homes). With that in mind, Twain may have been commenting on the cauliflower’s versatility and elevated stature in the cabbage family.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable (belonging to the brassicaceae family), which includes cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and collard greens. The family takes its name from Cruciferae (Latin for cross-bearing) from the shape of the flowers having four petals that resemble a cross. (Source).

Cauliflower is the only member of the cruciferous family to lack chlorohyll, giving it its creamy, white color. When the curd (the head) is about 2-3 inches in diameter, its large cabbage like leaves shield the “flowers” from the sun, and protect the plant as it matures.

Nowadays you can find a rainbow of cauliflower colors: orange (first discovered in Canada in 1970 from a genetic mutation), purple (due to the presence of the antioxidant anthocyanin) and green (sometimes called “broccoflower,” a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower).

Cauliflower is high in viatmins and minerals and, like other cruciferous vegetables, contains plant compounds known as glucosinolates, believed to have anticancer fighting properties. It’s also high in antioxidnts, including vitamin C (about one cup contains 77% of the recommended daily value), and beta-carotene which help to boost the body’s natural defense against free radicals. On top of it all, it’s high in fiber, vitamin K (an anti-inflamatory), and low in calories (about 25-30 calories per cup). Seriously, how can you go wrong? And unlike potatoes and white flour, cauliflower has a low glycemic index, so it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. Boom. The comeback kid.

Okay, now let’s get down to the fun part – cooking with cauliflower.

A simple Google search (All Recipes comes up with a list of 234 caulilower recipes), or quick caulifower browse on Pinterest will give you an idea of how seemingly endless cauliflower’s repetoire is.

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. Wash and break the florettes into bite sized pieces, sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with parmesean cheese and then broil for 3-5 minutes.

Here are three of my favourite cauliflower recipes:

balsamic cauli_1
battered cauliflower

Balsamic Glazed Cauliflower “Wings”


 Ingredients (sauce):

¼ Cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)

¼ Cup honey or maple syrup

1 Clove garlic, crushed

1 Tsp finely minced rosemary

¼ Tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

Combine together in a bowl and whisk. Set aside.


Ingredients (cauliflower):

One large head of cauliflower washed and broken into florets

½ Cup flour (I use a gluten free blend or brown rice flower)

½ Cup milk of choice (I use almond milk)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees, and coat baking sheet with oil
  2. Whisk together flour and milk in a bowl
  3. Toss the cauliflower into batter until thoroughly coated
  4. Spread cauliflower on baking sheet in a single layer
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and pour sauce over cauliflower
  7. Return to oven for another 5 minutes, flipping once and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Enjoy.




Vegan Cauliflower “Alfredo” Sauce




4 Cloves garlic

1 lb of cauliflower florets (about 1 medium head)

½ Cup vegetable broth

¼ Cup almond milk

1 Tbsp vegan butter or olive oil

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ Tsp onion powder

¼ Tsp nutmeg

½ Tsp freshly ground pepper

Salt, to taste


1 bunch steamed asparagus


8 oz fettuccine




Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add cauliflower and garlic cloves. Boil until cauliflower is tender (about 10 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove cauliflower and garlic, and then add to a blender. Save the cauliflower water for cooking pasta.

Add broth, almond milk, butter, yeast, and seasonings to the blender. Blend until smooth (add a little water if it’s too thick). Return pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, add cauliflower sauce to pasta, stir in asparagus and serve.



Crispy Orange Cauliflower Bites (gluten free and vegan)




1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets


For Flour Mixture:


1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 2 Tbsp water, allow to sit until thickened

1/3 Cup water

1/3 Cup corn starch

¼ Cup gluten free flour blend

1 Tsp oil

  1. Blend ingredients together until a nice batter is formed (waffle consistency).
  2. Heat up skillet with ½ oil on medium/high heat
  3. Dip each small floret into batter and cover entirely
  4. Fry in oil until completely browned * (or bake at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes).
  5. Allow to drain on paper towel


For Orange Sauce:

2 Tbsp oil

3-4 Garlic cloves peeled and zested

6 Green onions, thinly sliced

Zest of 1 orange and juice of orange

2 Tbsp soy sauce (gluten free)

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

  1. In a clean skillet, heat oil and garlic for one minute
  2. Add green onions, zest and juice. Cook for another minute
  3. Add soy sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. Toss in crispy cauliflower and coat thoroughly
  4. Place on top of rice or mixed greens


¼ Cup orange juice

1 Tsp corn starch

1 Tsp brown sugar

  1. In same skillet , add orange juice, corn starch and brown sugar
  2. Bring to a quick boil, stirring constantly
  3. Drizzle over orange cauliflower
  4. Garnish with green scallions, orange zest and sesame seeds


Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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