Discover the Cruciferous Cauliflower

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Is cauliflower really a flower? Yes. The white globe that is eaten is actually an immature flower. The name Cauliflower actually comes from two Latin words which mean cabbage and flower. It’s part of the cruciferous family of plants and vegetables which means it’s extraordinarily good for you! Let’s take a look at this fun plant.

What is it?

The cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable which means that it is highly nutritious and offers many of the same nutritional benefits as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. There are actually four major types of cauliflower including Asian, Italian, and two European versions, one of which is an annual and the other is a biennial.

The immature flower, also called the curd, is harvested in the fall in most locations. And while it’s the white flower that most people are familiar with, you can also find orange, green, and purple varieties.


Historians have found references to the cauliflower dating back to the thirteenth century. It’s likely that it originated in the Mediterranean and was part of the wild cabbage family. Cultivation in North America didn’t begin until the sixteenth century. Today, the United States, France and China are major producers.

Health Benefits

Like many other cruciferous vegetables, the cauliflower contains enzymes that help improve thyroid function. Cauliflower is believed to be important in cancer prevention and it is very high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate. It’s also a good source of many B vitamins.

Purple cauliflower, as you might suspect, contains high levels of a specific antioxidant group called anthocyanins. And orange cauliflower is estimated to have 25 times the level of vitamin A as traditional white cauliflower.

Fun Fact

The cauliflower is white because when it is growing it is shielded from the sun by the plants thick green leaves. Photosynthesis is not allowed to happen when the sun is blocked and the result is a white flower.

Many people have a strong opinion about vegetables including the cauliflower. Mark Twain was quoted as saying, "Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education".

How to Eat

Unfortunately, the more you cook cauliflower, the more nutrients it loses. The best way to prepare cauliflower is to eat it raw with a dip or in a salad. However, steaming has also been shown to be a great way to release some of the nutrients and make them more accessible to your body. Though the flavor is subtle, many people just don’t like the way cauliflower tastes when it is steamed or cooked. If you dislike it, consider mixing it with other flavors.

For example, you can boil potatoes and steam a bit of cauliflower, mash them up and add butter and milk to make mashed potatoes. The taste of the cauliflower is so subtle most people don’t notice a difference. You can also make cauliflower soups and add them to any side dish.

Experts recommend eating a minimum of three cruciferous vegetables each week. Try adding cauliflower to your diet and experiment with various recipes. It’s delicious raw or steamed.


Cauliflower Recipes

Curried Eggplant Cauliflower Stew

2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large sliced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated fine
3/4 tsp salt
1 medium-size eggplant, washed, ends trimmed, then cut in one-inch chunks
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup water

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add garam masala, mustard seed, and curry powder. Stir and toast eggplant just until spices start to darken, stirring, about one minute, then transfer to a small bowl.
Add onion, ginger, garlic, oil, and salt to the pot. Continue to cook for three to four more minutes, stirring until onions begin to soften.
Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, eggplant, cauliflower, water and the reserved spices, then bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about fifteen to twenty minutes until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6 people.

Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower
Cream dressing

To prepare this Cauliflower Salad Recipe, first remove the green leaves from the cauliflower and place it head down in cold water to which has been added one tablespoonful of salt to one quart of water. Soak one-half hour or more to drive out any insects that may have found their way into the flowerets. Cut into small sections or flowerets. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain, cool and serve on individual salad plates with a garnish of lettuce. Arrange one or two flowerets upon the plate, and serve with a spoonful of dressing at the side and on top of it.

Cheese Cauliflower

1 md head cauliflower about 2 pounds
2 tbsp margarine or butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded process american
4 ounces Cheese
5 dr red pepper sauce

Prepare and cook cauliflower as directed for cauliflowerets or whole cauliflower.
Heat margarine in 1-1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat until melted. Stir in flour, mustard, salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in cheese and pepper sauce.
Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Pour over hot cauliflower. Sprinkle with paprika.

Cauliflower and Coconut Soup

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion chopped fine
1 carrot diced
1/2 pound cauliflower
1 cooking apple peeled and diced
1/2 tsp cumin ground
1/2 tsp coriander ground
1/2 tsp turmeric ground
1/2 tsp ginger ground
1/4 tsp chili powder to taste
4 cup vegetable stock
2 ounces creamed coconut grated
3 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
1 can beans drained
salt and pepper to taste

Fry onion and carrot in oil for 5 mins. Add cauliflower, apple and spices, stir well and cook for 1 - 2 mins.
Add stock, bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 20 mins.
Stir in rest of ingredients and simmer until the coconut has melted.
Serve hot.

Cauliflower with Mustard Sauce and Dill

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dill seeds
3 bay leaves
1 pound cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp minced fresh dill

Pour stock into a 10-inch skillet and add dill seeds and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a simmer.
Add cauliflwer, cover, and continue to simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 7-8 minutes.
Uncover the skillet and place it in the refrigerator. Let cauliflower chill in its stock for about 30 minutes.
Drain cauliflower reserving stock, and place it in a serving dish. Strain stock and combine 1/4 cup of it with mustard.
Drizzle sauce over cauliflower, sprinkle with minced dill, and serve.