How to Cook Cauliflower

Anyone interested in healthy eating will soon discover that cauliflower is one of their best friends. It is very versatile and quick and easy to cook in many different ways. In this guide we’ll teach you a little about why this is and take you through some of the most popular ways of preparing cauliflower.

Cauliflower Nutritional Facts

A cup of cauliflower florets contains just 28 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fibre, 18 milligrams of sodium and 176 milligrams of potassium. This compares to 218 calories in a cup of brown rice and 46 grams of carbs. It is also an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and if you can find orange cauliflower, it is a good source of beta carotene.

Cauliflower has grown in popularity as it is an excellent replacement for traditional carbs. Thanks to its texture and flavour, it can be used to replace sides such as rice and potatoes and it can also be used to replace foods such as pizza crust, pasta and biscuits.

Basic Preparation

Regardless of how you want to cook cauliflower, the first few steps are nearly always going to be the same.

  1. Remove the Leaves

Using a sharp knife, slice off the leaves from the base of the cauliflower.

  1. Cut off the Stem

The way in which this is done varies slightly depending upon what you are planning on doing with the cauliflower. If you want to roast it whole or slice it into steaks, then you should cut off the thick stem at the base. You can then put the cauliflower head upside-down into cool salt water and let it soak to remove dirt and bugs. If you want to cut the cauliflower into florets, then you should turn the head upside-down and with the knife at a 45-degree angle slice around the stem in a circle to remove the core from the centre.

  1. Cut the Head into Large Florets

Using a knife, split the cauliflower into large florets. At the same time, you can remove any final pieces of leaves or stem.

  1. Trim Florets

Cut or break the florets into pieces the correct size for your recipe, rinse them, drain, and then pat drive.

Different Ways to Cook Cauliflower

There are a huge number of ways to cook cauliflower. Here we will take you through some of the most basic of them to help you get started.

Microwaving Cauliflower

This is possibly the easiest way to cook cauliflower. First, put the florets in a microwaveable bowl and then add enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film, wax paper or a wet towel. Cook the cauliflower on high power until it is tender crisp, which will take about 4 or 5 minutes. Drain it, and then season to taste.

Roasting Cauliflower

This is a fast and easy way to make crispy cauliflower. Place the cauliflower florets in a medium bowl with oil and seasoning and then toss them so that they are evenly coated. Pour them onto a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray and arrange them in a single layer. Roast them at 425F/220C until they are brown and crisp, which will take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Steaming Cauliflower

This is a fast and easy way to make cauliflower soft so that it can then be blended into a puree for soup or mashed like a potato.

First, boil a little water (around 1 inch/3.5cm) in a large saucepan and place a steamer basket in the bottom of the pan, making sure that the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the basket. Add the cauliflower florets to the steamer, cover them and steam until they are tender, which takes around 4 to 8 minutes. Then simply remove the cauliflower and season to taste. It is also possible to steam the entire cauliflower, which is useful if you want to bake it. It will take around quarter of an hour.

Boiling Cauliflower

Boiled cauliflower can be a great side dish on its own; however, boiling it in chicken stock or another soup base is a great way to prepare it for a more elaborate recipe. Boiled cauliflower can be pureed with a blender to add body and creaminess to soups without the calories found in fat from cream. You can also mash boiled cauliflower as an alternative to mashed potatoes.

To boil a cauliflower bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Then just add the cauliflower florets to the boiling water and cook them until tender, which takes about 5 to 7 minutes. If you want to pure or mash the cauliflower then you can boil it for a little longer to make it tenderer. Then just drain the water and season to taste.

Cooking an Entire Cauliflower

If you want to cook the entire cauliflower at once, then this is one of the easiest ways of doing so. First, preheat your oven to 400F/200C. At the same time, fill a medium baking dish halfway with water and place the dish on one of the oven’s lower shelves. Then, place the cauliflower in a medium-sized cast-iron frying pan. Mix oil and your preferred seasonings in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, coat the cauliflower head with the mixture. Turn the cauliflower upside-down and pour the remaining oil mixture into the cauliflower head. Turn the cauliflower back the right way around and then roast it in the oven until it is tender-crisp, which will take around 35 to 45 minutes. When it is ready, a knife will easily pass through the thickest part of the cauliflower.