Cooking with cauliflower is not so common where I live. When I was growing up, good old cauliflower was a staple part of our diet, and mum put cauliflower in just about every recipe. It was cheap to buy, easy to prepare and can be added to almost anything. Cauliflower has excellent nutritional value and can be beneficial to those with high blood pressure, hypertension and heart disease. Cauliflower is high in fiber and protein, has no fat or cholesterol and is rich in vitamins, potassium and magnesium. In fact, a whole cauliflower will only contain about 130 calories. If you eat cauliflower raw like broccoli, the benefits are greatly enhanced.

Growing Cauliflower:

Growing cauliflower is easy. A heavy crop of cauliflower seedlings or seed can be sown early spring or early autumn. Be sure to avoid the last frost of winter. Early spring cauliflower can be very expensive, so growing your own makes perfect sense. Cauliflower is a little sensitive to extreme weather changes, so covering your plants when they are young or when heads are forming will be a good idea. The heads can spread and become limp and the plant will go to seed early if a harsh weather event occurs. Plant your seedlings 10″ apart in with 12″ – 14″ between rows. Pick when the heads are tight and a creamy white in color.

The best variety I have found to grow is called Snow King. It takes only 6-7 weeks until fully mature and ready for harvest. There are earlier varieties but this particular cauliflower is quite large given the time frame in which it grows. The head will be about 9 inches in diameter. It also seems to be more heat tolerant than other varieties so planting some in the very early fall will bring great results.

Cooking With Cauliflower:

As mentioned previously, cauliflower can be added to almost anything. Mashed into potatoes, blended into soups and stews, boiled, steamed or baked. You can also add 2 or 3 cupfuls of cauliflower to ground beef when making burgers. If you’re almost out of groceries this can stretch ground beef an extra 2 plates. Steam it until tender first.(not soft) When my children were small, we’d peel and mash zucchinis with cauliflower and turnips and add it to the potatoes. Nobody knew it was in there and with a swift grating of Parmesan or Romano cheese most of them came back for a second helping. It is wise to add a small piece of each to the side though so your children don’t feel they are getting away without eating something which is good for them.

If you make relish every year, make it using green tomatoes, diced onions and cauliflower pieces. It adds a little bulk, you’ll need less tomatoes and the flavor does not intrude on the other ingredients. Cauliflower can also be blanched and stored for months in the freezer, making it a very worthwhile vegetable to grow in the budget conscious backyard garden.

I have 2 favorite cauliflower recipes, one of my favorites is not for those watching the diet, but it is very delicious.

-Pull a cauliflower apart into bite-sized pieces and steam them until tender, but not soft.

-Dip each piece into melted cheese . Place them onto a tray in the freezer until the cheese is stiff.

-Once chilled, dip each piece of cheese coated cauliflower into a plain batter and deep fry in fresh sunflower oil or vegetable oil for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

-Serve as a side with any meal.

The second recipe is creamed cauliflower soup.

-Steam a whole cauliflower and chop into small pieces.

-Add to a large pan containing 3 cans of chicken broth.

-Add black pepper and 1 tbs of chopped or dried parsley .

-Thicken with 1 tsp of cornstarch mixed with ½ cup of milk, or stir in 1 cup of creamed cheese or sour cream before serving.

-If you happen to have any leftover chicken, toss that into the saucepan with a handful of pasta to make chicken noodle soup!

Serve with home made bread or damper. (see here for a foolproof damper recipe as a cheaper alternative to using store bought bread)

Try some cauliflower with your next meal!

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