September 24, 2010

Cauliflower, Four Ways

The head of cauliflower is hidden among large green leaves; in order to keep it white, the leaves must be tied together, or as I do, folded over, to keep the yellowing effect of sun away. This year I had an abundant crop, so have been eating cauliflower every day, and still have 2 enormous heads in the refrigerator (I must make some soup for the freezer!) A fresh cauliflower from the garden has a wonderful sweet flavor, vastly superior to the long-traveled supermarket item. I have several favorite ways of cooking this vegetable and thought I'd share them with you. If you have any favorite way of cooking now-abundant cauliflower, I hope you'll share it.

Cauliflower Salad: A first way of eating cauliflower is a very simple and delicious salad: steam the florets until tender, then dress them with good olive oil and red wine vinegar, adding salt to taste.

Fried Cauliflower

This is a favorite from my mother's kitchen.
  1. For fried cauliflower, steam florets until tender, as with salad, and also the pasta below. (I keep a big bowl of steamed cauliflower in the refrigerator at this time of year.)
  2. Dip the cauliflower into beaten egg and then dust with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. I put the flour in a brown paper bag, drop the cauliflower into it in batches, and shake to coat the florets.
  3. Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a wide skillet; fry cauliflower, turning, until golden.

Penne with Cauliflower, Garlic and Oil

This recipe comes from Marcella Hazan's More Classic Italian Cooking, out of print, but available used; it's for anchovy lovers only. The amounts that follow are for a pound of pasta, so adjust for a smaller amount.

a 1 1/2 pound head of cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
6 flat anchovy fillets, chopped
1/4 teas chopped hot red pepper
1 pound package penne or other macaroni
2 Tbs chopped parsley

  1. Break apart cauliflower into florets; steam until tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Put the oil, garlic and chopped anchovies into a medium sized saute pan. Turn on heat to medium and saute until garlic begins to turn golden, stirring and mashing the anchovies.
  3. Put in the cauliflower and break it up with a fork, crumbling it into peanut sized pieces, mashing some of it into a pulp.
  4. Add the hot pepper and a liberal amount of salt. Cook for a few minutes more.
  5. Cook the pasta, place in a serving bowl and pour the sauce over it; toss and add the parsley.

Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes

Years ago, probably 30 or 35 (!), I bought a collection of paperback cookbooks, which included Mexican, Jewish, Spanish, Vegetable, Asian, Bread and Indian cookbooks. I still dip into them from time to time. The Indian cookbook that came with this collection, The Art of Indian Cooking by Monica Dutt, out of print but available used, has very simple recipes, Americanizing the Indian cuisine. For instance, there's rare mention of ghee, but instead vegetable oil is used. If you, like me, are intimidated by complex Indian recipes, this is for you.

6 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
3 medium potatoes,peeled and quartered
2 bay leaves, crushed
a pinch of black pepper
1/2 teas grated fresh ginger
1/4 teas crushed red pepper
1 Tbs ground coriander
1/4 teas turmeric
1 teas ground cumin
1 cup boiling water
salt to taste
2 Tbs chopped cilantro (the book calls for parsley, but cilantro is obviously the better choice)

Heat vegetable oil in a wide skillet and saute cauliflower and potatoes until light brown, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables and set aside.
In the same oil, fry bay leaves 1 minute, add remaining spices and mix well. Add the sauteed vegetables and fry and stir for 5 minutes.
Add the boiling water and salt, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender and water has been absorbed.
Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.


  1. Hi Altoon -

    I find that cauliflower lends itself particularly well to roasting. Place florets on a baking sheet in a single layer, sprinkle with salt, lots of black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven, I use 425, turning once after florets are starting to brown, and cook until they are a toasty color on both sides. Great eaten hot, room temperature, or even cold out of the fridge the next day!


  2. Thanks for this new recipe, Joy. I made it tonight and it's delicious; the cauliflower stays crisp and has a wonderful flavor from the olive oil and the roasting.

  3. What a wonderful melange of flavors and ideas. And I love the juxtaposition of the head of cauliflower at the top with the new painting in the right hand column!

  4. Oh, I'm hungry for cauliflower after this post. When I was a farm girl, I worked the cauliflower fields, my young teen arm lined with red rubber bands. I'd scoop the leaves together with one hand and band them with the other. The row of cauliflower went forever, it seemed, into the horizon.

  5. hi Linda, I look forward to this mix of recipes each fall. And Maggie, I love the image of a young woman marching down the row of cauliflower, armed with rubber bands; thanks for sharing that memory.

  6. All of these recipes look delicious, including the roasted cauliflower. I'm especially intrigued by the pasta with anchovies. I never would have thought about putting cauliflower with those ingredients. I'm already a big fan of cauliflower with curry.

  7. hi ozark, thanks, glad you like the look of these recipes. As for the anchovies, I love them and make several pastas using them, all inspired by Marcella Hazan. She does a similar recipe with broccoli and one with tomatoes and anchovies, and one with simply olive oil, garlic and anchovies, garnished with parsley. All delicious.

  8. We had roasted cauliflower tonight, inspired by you. I've made it before, but I roasted it more aggressively tonight. Mr. Homesteader wondered how I made it, even if I'd fried it, but, as he put it, it wasn't greasy at all and he knew he hadn't seen me frying. I could have eaten an entire plate of it, but I had tabbouleh, salmon, and sorrel-spinach soup to eat too.

  9. Ozark, your dinner sounds delicious and I'm glad the cauliflower was a success. I have to give credit to Joy, my sister in law, for the recipe. I hope you'll check out the "recipes" label for other good stuff. My background is Middle Eastern Jewish, so I've posted several family recipes.