How to Cook Cauliflower – Wonderfully versatile, terrifically tasty cauliflower is a hearty veggie that’s perfect to enjoy raw or cooked. It’s great to serve as a snack or healthy side dish, and can even be made the star main dish of nearly any vegan-friendly meal. Get ready to learn all that you need to know about cauliflower – including how to choose the best head, easy prep tips, and our roundup of delicious recipes!
How to Choose the Best Head of Cauliflower to Cook or Enjoy Raw
Like many cabbage varieties, cauliflower is a distant cousin of wild cabbages that originated in the Mediterranean. Once introduced to other regions, it quickly became a popular veggie across the world! Today cauliflower is grown pretty much everywhere, and is readily available at just about every grocery store across America.
Cauliflower is commonly harvested in late summer through early winter. So anytime between July-December is when you should find the freshest, fullest heads. Choose the best cauliflower by selecting a head that is bright white with full, green leaves. The florets and stalk should be firm, with no rubberiness. A bit of browning of the florets is ok, but cauliflower should be immediately discarded if mold begins to grow.
How to Preserve Cauliflower
Before cleaning and prepping you should keep fresh cauliflower heads in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Once the florets have been cut and cleaned, they will keep fresh for up to a week or so in the fridge if kept in a sealed container.
It is very easy to freeze cauliflower florets, and they will keep well for up to 3 months in the freezer. To flash freeze cauliflower, first prep, wash, and dry the florets. (Continue reading for tips on how to prep cauliflower!) Once prepared, place the florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread out evenly. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 1 hour to flash freeze. Then transfer to an airtight bag, and place back in the freezer until ready to use.
Tips for How to Cut and Prepare Fresh Cauliflower
The first thing you want to do is remove the cauliflower florets from the leafy stalk. You’ll need to decide whether you want to use the cauliflower whole or break it up into florets.
If you plan to use the cauliflower head whole, say to roast, start by cutting off the stalk as close to the base of the head as possible. Then flip the head upside down so that the florets are on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife or your hands to peel away any remaining leaves from the underside of the cauliflower.
To separate the cauliflower head into florets, first cut the stalk from the head and set it aside. Then cut the head into 4 equal chunks by halving once and then again. This will allow you to then easily cut florets off of the cauliflower core.
The core and stalk can be discarded, or peeled and chopped to include in cooked dishes. It adds a great crunch to stir fry dishes, soups, and stews!
How to Cook Cauliflower: Recommended Vegan Cauliflower Recipes to Try
Cauliflower is a terrific low-carb substitute for some of your favorite side dishes. Use the florets to make cauliflower rice, or mashed cauliflower “potatoes” as hearty sides to serve with saucy recipes like vegan meatballs and gravy, vegan cauliflower butter chicken, or vegan sweet and sour cauliflower.
Chunks of crunchy, tender cauliflower florets are also a delicious swap for popular main dishes that are typically made with meat. Recipes like
It’s also perfect for creating thick, rich sauces that are lower in carbs but still have amazing texture and taste. Like:
Find even more delicious vegan cauliflower recipes here!
What’s your favorite thing about cauliflower? Let me know in the comments below!