The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 17, 2013

Dietitian: No secret to exceptional benefits, and unexpected flavor, of cauliflower

By April Graff
Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian

---- — Q: Is there any nutritional benefit from cauliflower? I’ve heard that you want to eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables instead of ones that don’t have much color. Since cauliflower is white, is it worth eating?

A: You are correct in that health professionals have long been promoting dark leafy greens, bright sweet potatoes, rich berries and other colorful produce. The great news is that cauliflower is considered a bright color – white! White fruits and vegetables (bananas, onions, jicama, mushrooms, turnips) contain nutrients that provide powerful immune-boosting activity, and are a great addition to your meals.

Cauliflower has long been popular in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine for its ability to soak up every bit of flavor that comes its way. Called one of the top vegetables of 2013, this versatile favorite takes well to any cooking method. Cauliflower is great roasted, pan-fried, sautéed, pureed or simmered in a well-seasoned sauce.

When roasted, cauliflower takes on a sweet, nutty flavor, making it a revelation for those who know it only as a bland, often over-steamed side dish. Served plain or with sauces, it wins over even the most reluctant audience. Combined with a zesty cheese sauce and baked, it’s a rich, toasty replacement for mac and cheese.

Try one of the seasonal purple, green or orange varieties. Purple is a sweeter, nuttier variety long grown in the Mediterranean region. Green is a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli, offering the best of both. Mild and creamy orange was found growing naturally in a Canadian field about 40 years ago. While all cauliflower is high in vitamin C, the orange variety is also a good source for beta-carotene, which is rich in vitamin A, vital for healthy eyes. Cauliflower comes from the same healthful family as broccoli, collards and kale, and is available year-round.

Choose a firm head with no blemishes. Store it stem-side up in a refrigerator crisper drawer for up to five days. The whole head is edible. To prepare, remove the edible leaves and cut off and discard the small base of the stem. Once cut, use cauliflower immediately.

Cauliflower Steaks Serves 2 ¼ cup packed Italian flat-leaf parsley 1 jalapeño, seeded and quartered 2 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons Hy-Vee Select olive oil, divided 1⁄8 teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon Hy-Vee salt, divided 1 large head cauliflower ¼ teaspoon Hy-Vee black pepper 1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese In a food processor, combine parsley, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1⁄8 teaspoon salt. Process 1 minute. Preheat oven to 420°F. Remove and discard cauliflower leaves. With stem up, slice through head making 1-inch-wide pieces. Pour 4 teaspoons olive oil into middle of a shallow baking pan; coat both sides of each cauliflower steak with the oil. Season both sides of steaks with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Arrange cauliflower slices in the pan. Roast for 15 minutes or until browned; turn and roast 10 to 15 minutes more or until tender. Serve topped with prepared salsa verde mixture and shaved Parmesan. Note: Cut the steak from the center of a head of cauliflower so a piece of the stem is included. The stem keeps the steak from falling apart. Nutrition facts per serving: 350 calories, 27 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 1,040 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 12 g protein. Daily values: 15% vitamin A, 280% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 10% iron.