GOOD CARBS FOOD FACTS
CAULIFLOWER – THE ROCK STAR VEGETABLE
Was it the rock-star chef Yotam Ottolenghi, or was it cauliflower rice that has created such an aura around this humble brassica vegetable? I’m going with Ottolenghi says dietitian Nicole Senior. Why? Because he’s all about deliciousness and flavour and a food culture that has lasted for ages and not a fad that has tarnished the name of all carbohydrates. And there are so many more delicious ways to enjoy cauliflower than smashing it to smithereens and imagining (very hard) that its potato.
Cauliflower is having its moment in the sun. It was never really in the shade as it has been trundling along for years in the form of cauliflower cheese (what’s not to love?), but since Ottolenghi made vegetables cool again and showed us how to cook them in delightful ways, cauli’s reputation has ramped up a notch or three. From a new take on cauliflower cheese with mustard, cumin and curry, a gorgeous salad with pomegranate and pistachios, a warming side dish with coconut cream and chilli, or cauliflower “steaks” with Middle Eastern Spices, Ottolenghi has indeed written the book on how to make this sculptural looking vegetable into something marvellous and irresistible.
There are many more beautiful recipes but my absolute go-to weeknight fast and simple approach is to cut a whole cauliflower into four quarters right down the stem, dress with crushed garlic and olive oil and roast until tender (I stick it in the BBQ but a hot oven will do just as well). It is simply divine and I can potter about doing the other bits of the meal while it takes very good care of itself. Equally, you could throw it into a roast vegetable medley and it will make beautiful mouth-music with other veggies who like the lick of fire such as potato, pumpkin (squash), eggplant (aubergine), capsicum (sweet pepper), carrot and parsnip.
What makes all this cooking talk even more appealing is learning just how good is it for your health. Cauliflower, like other vegetables in the brassica family (also called cruciferous vegetables because of their cross shaped flowers), contain phytochemicals called flavonoids and glucosinolates that help support your immune system and may even reduce cancer risk. It is also rich in vitamin C for healthy gums, folate for a healthy heart, vitamin K for controlling inflammation and fibre for good digestive health. And having high water content and rich flavour while also being low in kilojoules, it helps fill you up without filling you out.
And just when you thought we’d thought of everything to do with cauliflower, some smarty pants in the Australian horticultural industry thinks up the seemingly unthinkable – the cauliflower latte. From the “what-will-they-think-of-next” basket, comes an experimental milky coffee with 7g of cauliflower powder per cup that was served up to delegates at a horticultural industry conference. The baristas couldn’t keep up with demand! The word is it added a creamy texture and took the bitter edge off the coffee. The idea behind it is to use up otherwise wasted fresh cauliflower by transforming it into a dry powder. The powder could also be used in a range of other foods such as bread and improve vegetable intake as well as reduce food waste. I thoroughly approve both these concepts but I can’t help thinking if we all cooked cauli like Ottolenghi, we’d gobble up all the fresh cauliflower there is going and there’d be no waste whatsoever.
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious. Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.