Harvesting and Using Fresh Cauliflower

Harvesting and Using Fresh Cauliflower
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Cauliflower is full of Vitamin C and potassium and it has very few calories. All good things in my book. However, if we boil it until it's mushy and add a bunch of cheese to it, we've defeated it's healthiness. Of course, this was my favorite way to eat it as a kid! Resist the urge and add it to your salads and the vegetables you eat raw with dip. Cooking is okay, just try it in different types of recipes that don't include the words augratin or scalloped. I've included a soup, that while creamy, is still better than some richer recipes.
When harvesting or buying cauliflower look for a tight evenly shaped head without blemishes. Discoloration is from exposure to the sun. The leaves are generally pulled over the cauliflower "curds" after they are formed and before they ripen, which gives it a nice white, creamy color. If this isn't done they will discolor, but the taste will still be okay. You should cut through the stem with a very sharp knife, just below the head. They are ready when the head is nice uniform shape, but before the florets or the "curds" begin to separate. A quick note on watering the cauliflower plants. Never let them dry out...keep them watered evenly at all times or they will not produce good sized heads, but very small ones instead.

Cauliflower can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped loosely in plastic wrap up to a week. Store unwashed and with bottom leaves intact if possible. If you are lucky enough to have a root cellar you will be able to store it for about 3 weeks.

Herbs that go well with cauliflower are caraway and celery seed, dill, tarragon, rosemary, mustard seed, sage, thyme, nutmeg, garlic, cumin, marjoram and savory. The following recipes can be used with any variety of cauliflower, but if your heads are small, use two instead of one.

Italian-Style Cauliflower


1 large head cauliflower

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

16 ounces stewed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Break cauliflower into small florets. Combine all the ingredients in a casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until tender.

Cauliflower with Basil and Tomatoes


1 tbsp. olive oil

4 green onions

3 pounds ripe tomatoes

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, torn

1 large cauliflower head, cut into florets

Skin, seed and roughly chop the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions and tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper and basil and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Meanwhile, cook the cauliflower in boiling, salted water for 4-5 minutes until almost tender. Drain well. Arrange the cauliflower on a serving plate and top with the tomato mixture. Garnish with fresh basil.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup


1 medium head cauliflower

1 quart chicken broth

1/4 cup sweet onion, diced fine

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup half and half

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

salt and pepper to season

Wash and break up the cauliflower into flowerets. Place in a soup pot with the stock and cook until the cauliflower is tender. Puree with 1 cup of the stock from the pan. Return to the pot. Soften the onion in the butter for 5-6 minutes. Add onion, cream and herbs to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the soup through till warm and serve with chives for garnish.

Marinated Cauliflower


1 head cauliflower

2 red onions, sliced very thinly

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon herb or wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp. fresh dill, minced or 1/2 tsp. dry dill weed

1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced or 1/4 tsp. dried

Break the cauliflower into florets. Steam with the onions until just tender, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and lemon. Stir in the herbs. Chill for several hours, turning the vegetables in the marinate every so often. NOTES: You can also cook the cauliflower in the microwave or in a pan with water to cover. Drain well and add to the raw onions. I love red onions, so I don't steam them usually.

Cauliflower Salad


2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons herb or wine vinegar

1 tsp. anchovy paste

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. olive oil

1 head cauliflower

1 large bell pepper, any variety, julienned

3 tablespoon fresh, minced parsley

In a small pan, drop the garlic in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Mince and add to a large bowl. Add the vinegar, anchovy paste and mustard. Mix well. Whisk in oil. Steam or microwave the cauliflower until crisp tender. Add with the pepper and parsley to the bowl. Mix and chill at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Roasted Cauliflower


1 large head Cauliflower

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 tsp. fresh, minced rosemary

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Break cauliflower into florets. Combine the oil. garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss with the cauliflower to coat. Place the mixture in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Serve warm.


I had to send in my favorite way to eat cauliflower - roast it. I cut up cauliflower in bite size pieces, drizzle a little bit of olive oil over it, sprinkle it with Kosher salt then stir it up to make sure it is all lightly coated. Bake it in the oven uncovered for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees until it is to your liking. I like mine with a little bit of crunch and that takes about 15 minutes. It is so good my whole family will eat cauliflower this way. Enjoy - Michele

Related Features:

Carrot Recipes

Broccoli Recipes

Brussel Sprouts


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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