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Cauliflower

Cauliflower

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Colder weather doesn't mean there aren't any veggies growing. Big white cauliflower clouds fill market stalls in the spring and again in the fall. Their plain, pale appearance belie cauliflower's wonderful, creamy taste and a lot of varied uses in the kitchen. Cauliflower is in the same family as broccoli, cabbage, and kale. It's also in the same family as the romanesco, which highlights the fractal nature of how these brassica vegetables grow.

You'll most commonly see white cauliflower, but other colors are out there, too, including orange, green, and purple.

Though not eaten as often, the leaves surrounding the cauliflower are also edible(looks like they should be on the list of "Eight Veggies Where You're Missing Half The Fun"). This is particularly useful if you're growing your own cauliflower but can't grown the large heads you'd find at the grocery store.

Now let's get down to the excellent and varied things you can do with cauliflower!

Roasted

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For many folk, roasting is the go-to method for cooking cauliflower. Cauliflower pieces are delicious coated in olive oil and sprinkled in salt, then roasted in a 375° oven until tender. I like to include a few cloves of garlic and some chunks of onion, too, though they aren't necessary.

It turns out, you can also roast cauliflower whole. Some folks poach the cauliflower first, but I just cut down the stem and coat the entire cauliflower in olive oil and any toppings (salt, fresh herbs, capers...). Put the entire cauliflower in a dish in a 425° oven for about 50 minutes, checking every once in a while to make sure the top doesn't burn.

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Following the suggestions of some online commenters, I finished my whole-roasted cauliflower by turning off the oven and tenting it under a piece of tin foil. This extra time as the temperature went down (and the tenting, which keeps the top from burning) helps the inside cook through.

I recently told a market customer about this easy and yummy recipe, and she asked how we ate it. While there are beautiful pictures online of people slicing into the whole cauliflower like a cake, we went a different way. It was so good, my boyfriend and I tore off pieces with our bare hands. We kept pulling pieces and munching; the whole thing was gone in an afternoon.

Soup

Cauliflower can be a great soup base, with plenty of room to layer flavors on top. Here's the basic recipe:

  1. Saute onions in olive oil until translucent, then add some diced garlic
  2. Stir in the garlic briefly, then add cauliflower, chopped up into small pieces
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for a few minutes
  4. Add enough vegetable broth to submerge everything in the pot
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is fork-tender
  6. IMG_1096
  7. Blend the soup until creamy. Enjoy!

Here are the variations that keep it interesting:

  • Add fresh or powdered hot pepper when sautéing the onions for a good kick
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  • Add diced potatoes along with the cauliflower to stretch the recipe and thicken the resulting soup
  • Spice it up! I like to add a lot of curry powder, along with some turmeric powder and ground fennel, for some flavor. Add these early, while sauteing the onions, then add more at the end as desired
  • If you aren't vegan, add some cream to, well, make it creamier when blended
  • If you want a vegan creamy alternative, try adding coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew milk
  • Add greens to the soup after blending. They're a healthy addition that also adds texture. Try kale, chard, spinach, or even cabbage (as I did at right)

Want a recipe with exact measurements? Try one of these:

Mashed

Potatoes aren't the only thing delicious when smashed. Mix cauliflower into your potatoes pre-mashing for a healthy, light addition. Here's an easy recipe.

Rice

DIRT Magazine introduced me to the surprising idea of using cauliflower as a replacement for rice. Whether you've jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, or just love cauliflower like I do, cauliflower rice is a great option.

DIRTmag rice
DIRTmag rice

Check out their recipe for a Broccoli Tofu Peanut Bowl, which uses cauliflower in lieu of rice.

Want to make cauliflower rice for your own meal? Here's the basics according to DIRT Magazine:

Grate the cauliflower florets on the large holes of a box grater (or use a food processor) until you have about 2 cups. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Cook garlic and ginger on low 1 minute. Add grated cauliflower and stir constantly for 3 minutes.

Pizza Crust

Rice isn't the only carb you can replace with cauliflower. My aunt recently sent me a recipe for Veggie Pizza with Cauliflower Crust, which she and her daughter proclaimed "absolutely amazingly fabulous." The recipe uses egg whites and cheese to hold a grated cauliflower crust together. Yum!

Roast Your Roots

Roast Your Roots

A few years ago, an acupuncturist told me to eat more root vegetables to help me be more grounded. I'm a fan of acupuncture, but this advice felt like a little much. Eating things from the ground so I'd feel more grounded? A little... literal for my taste.

But I happily followed the suggestion. Root vegetables are delicious, especially this time of year. So why not?

Colder weather can make farm work really tough on the body. Even just standing in the cold of a farmers market can leave me with shivers and sniffles.

So when I get out of the field, or home from market, I throw a whole bunch of root vegetables in the oven. Turning on the oven warms up the kitchen, and the hot, sweet vegetables feel so nourishing.

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Roasted Root Veggies

How to do it

It's super easy to roast root vegetables. The general instructions are:

  1. Cut vegetables into similarly sized pieces
  2. Coat in olive oil, salt, and any herbs you like
  3. Roast in the oven (at 350º or 375º), stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until soft and slightly caramelized
  4. Enjoy
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What to Roast

There are a lot of options for your roasted roots. In fact, not all of them are roots at all.

I usually include:

  • Onion (chopped into large pieces because it cooks fast)
  • Garlic (either individual peeled cloves or a whole head, which should be drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in tin foil to prevent burning)
  • Potatoes (white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or both!)
  • Carrots (cleaned, not peeled)

I sometimes include:

  • Winter squash, like butternut or acorn (OK, this isn't a root vegetable, but acorn squash very compatible with root veggies and can cook in the same time frame)
  • Beets (beets' strong red color can give a pink hue to your entire dish; if this bothers your, roast them separately and add them in after everything is cooked)
  • Fennel
  • Celeriac (celery root)
  • Turnip (keep the greens for other cooking)
  • Parsnip

I add flavor with (one or two of these is plenty; all of them would be too much):

  • Fresh or dried rosemary
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • A couple bay leaves
  • Cumin powder (especially good with winter squash)
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I don't know if roasted root veggies make me more grounded, but they sure taste great, so I'll take any excuse to keep cooking them.

Applesauce

Applesauce

Apples may be on your grocery store shelves year-round, but apples are in season in the fall. There's more to say about apples (check back for entries all about them soon), but today it's all about sauce. An apple-picking birthday party for my boyfriend's now-three-year-old niece (still age two in the picture) left me with a big bag of assorted apples and no plan. Luckily, I had plenty of jars and a couple of free hours.

Applesauce is easy like that. You can decide to make it on a whim and have something delicious before you know it.

If you decide to can your applesauce, it makes a great gift (especially for Hanukkah, where it can be served right away with latkes!).

Applesauce

Ingredients

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  • Apples (as many as you like, of assorted variety or a specific type you like)
  • Water
  • Sugar (I like to use brown sugar, but white will work, too)
  • Lemon juice
  • Cinnamon (powdered, not a stick)
  • Ground cloves (optional)
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Instructions

  1. Wash, core, and chop apples. I leave the skin on and slice the apples into a medium size. The smaller the pieces, the faster they'll cook!
  2. Throw into a deep pot with a bit of water (1/2 or 1 inch) at the bottom and put over a medium heat with a lid on it, removing the lid to stir occasionally
  3. As the apples cook, they'll soften and release more liquid. Once the liquid is close to the equal level as the apple pieces, add lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves to taste (err on the slight end, you can still add more later)
  4. Stir and continue cooking until apples are very soft, then blend with an immersion blender or in an electric mixer
  5. Now's your chance to taste the sauce and add anything extra (more cinnamon? yes please)
  6. You can keep your sauce in the fridge (or enjoy it warm right away), or can it for long-term preserving (and gift-giving) using the instructions below

Can It!

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  1. If you plan to can your applesauce (for preserving it long-term outside the fridge) you'll want to start heating a full water bath canner with clean, open jars in it when you start making the sauce; this will sterilize the jars and get your water bath ready
  2. You'll also want to sterilize the jar lids (the disks), by placing them in a small pot covered in water and bringing it to a low simmer (not a boil). They can just remain in the cooling water once they've reached that point, ready to use at the right moment.
  3. When the applesauce is blended, return it to the stove top, keeping it at a simmer
  4. Carefully remove your hot jars from the boiling water bath and fill with applesauce, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top.
  5. Run a spatula, knife, or chop stick around the edges of the jar to remove air bubbles, and wipe the top rim of the jar with a rag or paper towel to remove any residue
  6. Place disk lids on the jars and fasten lightly with bands. Then return the jar to the water bath.
  7. Once all the jars are full and in the water bath, bring it up to a boil and let cook for 20 minutes (adjusting as necessary for altitude).
  8. Remove jars and place on a towel or rag on a counter. You may hear the jars "pop" closed, or you may not.
  9. Check your lids later to make sure they aren't flexing. If any do, they are not sealed and should be kept in the fridge. Either way, now you can tighten the rings and put the jars away for safe keeping.

For more detailed instructions, check out Ball Jar's applesauce recipe.