C is for cauliflower

cauliflowerCauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and therefore related to broccoli, watercress, kale, bok choy, Brussels sprouts and radishes.

Like its relatives, the cauliflower is packed with healthy phytochemicals but is often overlooked as a superfood – maybe because it is not brightly coloured and lacks taste when it is overcooked.

Susanpic_31.10.15
Dr Susan Aldridge, guest blogger,freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

If you haven’t bought a cauliflower for a while, why not add one to your shopping basket this month? Look for one which is pure white, without brown spots, and with plenty of green leaves surrounding the heart. The cauliflower is versatile in cooking – it can be used raw, as in my rainbow crudites dish, or cooked, as in the curry. And it can also be used as a rice or mash substitute for those on a low carb diet – see the final recipe, for shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash.

Cauliflower is:

  • High fibre, low calorie, rich in vitamins B, C and K, as well as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folate
  • Packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients like beta-carotene, quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and indole-3-carbinol
  • A rich source of the potent anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, which has been found to kill cancer stem cells and inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

Rainbow crudites

Serves – as many as you like

Challenge yourself to assemble as many coloured vegetables as you can to offset the white of the cauliflower.

One head of cauliflower, cut into florets

Chopped cooked asparagus

Carrot batons

Radishes (try to get a bunch of multi-coloured radishes)

Cherry tomatoes

Sliced red, yellow, orange and green peppers

Mangetout peas

Broccoli florets

Sliced celery

Crisp Little Gem lettuce leaves

Arrange in a platter and serve with your favourite dip. For this, I made an almond hummus by blitzing a can of chick peas, one tbps each of almond butter, flax seed oil, lemon juice, a chopped chilli and three crushed cloves of garlic in the food processor. Add as many of your favourite dips as you like and make it into a party!

 

Cauliflower curry

Serves two

This dish has the advantage of combining curcumin, the powerful anti-cancer compound in turmeric, with the sulforaphane of the cauliflower.

One cauliflower, chopped into florets

One tbsp. cinnamon

One tbsp. turmeric

One tbsp. curry paste

One red onion

A one inch piece of ginger, chopped

Three cloves garlic, crushed

One chopped red chilli

Around 400g cooked chick peas

One bunch spinach

One tin coconut milk

One tbsp. tomato puree

Lemon juice

Chopped coriander

Heat some coconut oil and fry the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and spices till soft. Add the cauliflower and cook for around 10 minutes. Add chick peas and stir till everything is coated with the spice mixture. Add the coconut milk and turn down to simmer. Cook until reduced and add the tomato puree.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Serve with a garnish of chopped coriander.

 

Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash

This was my first time with cauliflower mash and it won’t be my last! A nice alternative to sweet potato mash.

Serves four (heats up well)

One red onion

Around 400g red lentils

Large jar of tomato sauce

Two chopped carrots

Two stalks celery

One tbsp. mixed herbs

For the mash

One cauliflower, cut into florets

Mustard

Butter

Crème fraiche

Sliced tomatoes

For the filling, fry the onion, carrots and celery in coconut oil till soft. Add the lentils and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomato sauce and herbs and cook on a low heat till the lentils are soft. Meanwhile, boil the cauliflower till soft and mash with the butter, mustard and crème fraiche (in whatever proportions you fancy) to give a soft texture.

Top the filling with the mash and garnish with sliced tomatoes. Cook at 190˚C (gas mark 5) for 30 minutes

 

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