In our new book, The Good Carbs Cookbook, there’s a profile of each of the forty foods that made the final cut. We chose cauliflower (a member of the Brassica or cabbage family) for a few reasons. It’s a great source of dietary fibre and other nutritional goodies and we love it and like to cook with it.
And seemingly so do advocates of paleo and “clean food” diets and various free-from grains or low-carb diets who suggest recipes like cauliflower rice. However, while our hunter-gather forebears may have tugged the odd wild cabbage ancestor from the ground, they certainly never tucked into anything like the creamy curds of the cauliflower we enjoy as it wasn’t around. In fact, like so many of our popular veggies, cauli’s origins are a bit of a mystery. It’s thought it originated in the eastern Mediterranean. Cauliflower was certainly described by the early Arab botanists, known to the Romans, and appeared in Italy towards the end of the 15th century, possibly making landfall in Sicily which has numerous delicious, trad recipes making the most of its creamy curds that soak up flavour. Here’s what you are getting with cauliflower.
THE CAULIFLOWER PROFILE
This three-in-one veg gives you an edible head of creamy curds and crunchy white stems encased by tender green leaves. Forget the substitute-for-potatoes-or-rice scenario and make the most of this affordable, versatile, mild-mannered member of the cabbage family that stir-fried, steamed, boiled or raw takes on the bold flavours of sharp cheeses, biting mustards, spicy curries, Asian sauces and tangy pickles. It makes excellent soups from the simple and soothing to the sublime and delicate.
By concentrating its sweetness, roasting puts cauliflower in a class of its own as side dish, salad or finger food with dips. The best cauliflower for roasting whole should have snowy white, tightly packed florets (curds) nestling in bright green leaves. Blanching before roasting gets rid of strong odours, keeps the florets tender after roasting and shortens the roasting time. Instead of blanching the cauliflower in water, you can steam it if you prefer.
The milky head is the one we are all most familiar with, but these days you’ll find orange, green (broccolflower) and purple caulis that hold their colour when cooked making for a rather spectacular dish.
Choose heads (or half heads) with tight, firm, creamy-white curds, steering well clear of any with black, slimy spots – signs of mould. Check the stems too and make sure there are no cracks or splits. Frozen florets will be fresher than those pre-packed plastic trays of florets that are often way past their best-by date. A head of cauli will keep in the fridge for a few days in a plastic bag.
WHAT’S IN THEM? Half a cup of cooked cauliflower florets (about 90g or 3oz) has around 90 kilojoules (21 calories), 2g protein, no fat, 2g carbs (2g sugars/ 0g starches), 2g fibre, 13 mg sodium, 284 mg potassium. Because it is so low in carbohydrate, it is not possible to measure its GI, and therefore it does not have a GL either.
—Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Murdoch Books.