A member of the brassica family, along with broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower was first eaten in Europe in the 13th century and was originally from the Middle East. Cauliflower was originally known as coleflower, meaning cabbage flower. With its classic creamy white florets and delicate flavour it is an attractive and popular choice. As well as the familiar white variety, Romanesco cauliflowers are available. These are conical-shaped and pale green in colour. Baby cauliflowers can also be bought and are an ideal size for a single portion. Whatever variety you buy choose a cauliflower that has a clean, firm head with crisp-looking green outer leaves.
How to Use
Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw cauliflower can be served in salads or as a crudité for dips. It can be made into the ever-popular dish, cauliflower cheese or served simply as an accompanying vegetable. Cauliflower can be made into soup or included in curries, stocks, stir fries and chutneys. Along with green beans, marrow and cucumber it is the one of the classic ingredients in piccallili, a mixed summer vegetable preserve flavoured with mustard and turmeric which gives it a distinctive yellow colour.
How to Prepare
Cut away any outer leaves (these can be cooked like cabbage) and trim the base of the stem. Wash the cauliflower thoroughly in cold running water. If cooking whole either cut a cross in the base of the stem or remove a core from the stalk with a potato peeler this helps to ensure even cooking. Alternatively cut the head into even-sized florets and discard the main stalk which can then be used in stocks or soups.
How to Cook
Cauliflower can be boiled or steamed. To cook a whole cauliflower, place it stem down in a large pan containing 2 5 cm of boiling water (add a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the creamy white colour), cook for 15 20 minutes until the stalk is tender but still firm. Drain well. To cook florets, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively steam florets for 5-10 minutes. Drain the florets well before serving and season with black pepper.
How to Store
Keep refrigerated after purchase.