Have you met Cauliflower? I’m sure you have in passing but you really must meet this friendly, yet oh-so-very flexible pal of mine. Not only is Cauliflower loaded with Vitamin B6, it’s packing some serious heat in those Vitamin C guns with nearly 250% of your daily minimum requirement in just a half of a head. So go ahead and play nice.
You must be thinking… Um, ew? Cauliflower is so bitter and retains little flavor of herbs from cooking. Pretty much salt (or heavy, heavy amounts of cheese) are the only things to give this steamed pile of muddy sand any possibility of satisfying your taste buds. I couldn’t agree more. This veggie is good for you but, let’s face it, there are plenty more fish in the sea. Vitamin C? Easy… Go for a yellow bell pepper. Vitamin B6? I’ll even up you on that and give you the whole B-complex with a handful of kale. Magnesium? Spinach will give you way more by eating fewer bites required to munch on a half of a head of cauliflower. There are all these veggies out there that are higher in nutritional value so what makes cauliflower so special? This very thought ran through my mind at the grocery store earlier today.
Sidebar… We have a small (and shitty) grocery store in our town. Its limited space is dedicated to frozen foods, processed snacks, and a bread aisle that’s big enough for a Super Walmart. What we don’t have is a decent organic produce section. Numerous occasions I have found myself walking out of the store, empty handed, because 99% of the organic produce is either molding, shriveled, or so ripe that I could possible break a tooth trying to eat it (i.e. avocado). I can’t complain all that much right now because there are several farmer’s markets that happen a few days a week in my tiny town, plus my garden is well on its way to producing a harvest. But then yesterday happened. I ran into the store to grab a few things for lunch and as I approached the organic produce section (please understand that the section is literally a section of surface area from the produce aisles that spans all of five feet) I couldn’t believe my eyes! There were red bell peppers, mushrooms, (ripe) avocados. Oh, the list would go on. I was beyond thrilled to see pile of organic produce that I picked up one (or two… Okay, three. But who’s counting anyways?) of everything I saw. The joy I felt from that moment put me on cloud nine. I was so happy that the screaming toddler in the check-out line freaking out because he had to wait for his mom to pay for his Funyuns didn’t even bother me. I drove all the way home while I was brainstorming the various recipes for my purchase. It wasn’t until I started to unpack my groceries that I realized what I had done.
Cauliflower?! What the @$#! am I going to do with this? And there I was standing in my kitchen with three (organic) cauliflower heads staring back at me. That’s when good ol’ Google never fails and minutes later I came across this gem:
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 c milk (almond works fine)
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
Cook the cauliflower in the milk. Add to blender with remaining ingredients. Blend then serve over favorite pasta.
Holy crap. Since I snuck out the bathroom window on my last date with gluten and dairy, we haven’t spoken much since. My sudden change of dietary status over a year ago kept me on a single-track mindset. Don’t think about pizza and you won’t miss it. That pretty much sums up how it worked and continues to work for me. Normally, I wouldn’t dare to come up with an alternative because, let’s face it, it is never as good as the real thing. And when it comes to Alfredo how can anything without cream or butter or cheese even compete? But then again, I foolishly bought more cauliflower than I’ve consumed in the last two decades combined and I had to do something.
So I did. And this is how I did it:
Cauliflower was tossed into a pan over medium heat with the almond milk and a little salt and pepper for good measure. Letting that cook, I prepared one large red bell pepper and a box of baby bella mushrooms for sautée My knife skills don’t produce the most consistent results, so I recommend you cut them up as big as you usually like your veggies in, let’s say, a stir fry. I enjoy large bites of mushrooms and peppers, so I kind of went for that.
While the vegetable delight sautéed in a bit of olive oil and fresh rosemary, I transfered the soft-to-the-fork cauliflower and the hot almond milk to the blender. I added the raw garlic cloves, nutritional yeast, pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper, and a little bit of vegan bouillon seasoning for good measure. I blended that sucker up and transfered the liquid to my pot where I added Shiritaki noodles. Together, in sweet harmony, the cauliflower sauce and fancy mushroom noodles simmered like they were meant to be. I continued to cook until the raw garlic flavor settled down to my liking. I served up the “Alfredo” in my favorite bowl and topped it off with the veggie melody.
Would you like to know the best part about this dish? That entire bowl (about four cups of food) was less than 250 calories. I’m not a light eater, by any means, and I could not come close to finishing this bowl. It was so creamy and delightful that I think it filled me up the same way a bowl of Alfredo would.
After my adventure with cauliflower and its unique character you cannot find with another vegetable, I encourage you to give it a try. Check out the links below for a few more ideas on how to design your next head of cauliflower using a whole new canvas!