Hiding Vegetables in Food: Shh … It’s Cauliflower!

Cauliflower can be tough to sell to a hungry family. It’s not exactly flavorful, and the texture is quite dry. To make matters worse, cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, a group of vegetables known for its bitter compounds.

If you’ve tried to dress up cauliflower in the past, one of your tactics may have been to drench it in cheese:

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While the bubbly, golden-brown peaks look delicious, your kids may not be so easily convinced this cauliflower will taste good.

Maybe you tried the deep-fried cauliflower route:

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Fried cauliflower tastes pretty good. But if I’m going to take the time to deep-fry (and allow myself to consume that much grease), I want to fry something I absolutely love, like sweet potatoes.

You don’t have to go through the deep-fried trouble of making cauliflower taste good. This cruciferous shines in some pretty simple recipes. After all, cauliflower is a gorgeous vegetable.

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We usually think of cauliflower as white, but varieties come in all sorts of different colors.

 

The key to cooking great cauliflower is to not overcook it into a soggy mess. The longer cruciferous vegetables cook, the more bitter they taste. Whether I roast, sauté, or steam cauliflower, I always cook it until it is tender but still firm. I vary the level of tenderness slightly depending on the application. I roast cauliflower until it’s golden brown and crunchy, but for purées I steam the cauliflower until the crunch is minimized.

Hiding Vegetables in Food: Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Sauce

This cauliflower sauce recipe is extremely versatile. One head of cauliflower makes a big jar of sauce, and it is the sneakiest way to hide vegetables in dishes for kids (and picky spouses). Here are some delicious – and inconspicuous – ways I’ve used this sauce:

  • Pizza topping (in place of marinara)
  • Dip for bread sticks
  • Pasta sauce (in place of Alfredo)
  • Dressing for mixed vegetables
  • Filling for zucchini boats
  • Lasagna layer

There are endless ways to get creative with this sauce. Stir in shredded white cheese for a richer taste. Or make it dairy-free/vegan with oil and vegetable broth in place of butter and milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbs butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Cut cauliflower into small florets. Add cauliflower and 1 inch of water to a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until cauliflower is very tender (about 5 min).

Meanwhile, heat oil or butter in small pan over medium-low. Add whole garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. Cook the garlic, stirring often, until garlic is tender. Reduce heat to low if garlic starts to brown. Add milk to the skillet. Briefly scrape off bottom of skillet and add entire mixture to a food processor or blender.

Strain cauliflower and add to food processor with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. For a thinner sauce, add more milk or water from the pot of cauliflower.

Happy $tamping!

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