9 Essential Cauliflower Recipes Everyone Should Know
From creamy soup to rich-tasting sides and crunchy pasta—is there anything this wonder vegetable can't do?
Photo: Jake Rosenberg of the Coveteur
The Mashed, Er, Mash-Up That Oprah Loves
Add another fan to pureed cauliflower's long list of admirers: Oprah. She learned that boiling the cruciferous veggie with a potato until they're both tender, and then mashing them with some chopped chives, onion, garlic and rosemary results in "absolute deliciousness." She says they taste like real mashed potatoes (even though they're healthier)—and we're pretty sure you'll agree.
Get the recipe: Oprah's Cauli-Potatoes
The New Way to Make Cauliflower Soup
We often see cauliflower in creamy soups that have been run through a blender. This unexpected recipe, though, keeps the florets bite-size; they turn perfectly tender in a slow cooker, so while you still use a spoon, you get a bit more texture. The dish also includes corn (you can use fresh or frozen), red bell pepper, onion and baby red potatoes, plus a bit of unsweetened almond milk for thickness. The finished bowl is a fresh take on vegetable soup.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower and Corn Soup
Photo: Courtesy of Purple Carrot
A Dish That Borrows from an Asian Classic
If you've ever cooked pot stickers—even the frozen kind—you know the steam-then-sear method, which quickly heats the interior and browns the exterior of the dumpling. Turns out this speedy technique also works really well with cauliflower. You cut a head into large wedges, prepare it using the aforementioned two-step approach and serve the veggie—which, when cooked this way, is supersatisfying and substantial enough to serve as a main course. Also on the plate: roasted potatoes and a rich Spanish romesco sauce, made with garlic, almonds and roasted red peppers.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower Romesco with Roasted Salt Potatoes and Green Olives
A Treat You'll Look Forward to as Much as Dessert
We know: Putting the words "cauliflower" and "cake" together seems like it could lead to an enormous letdown. But trust us on this one. Grated Parmesan, onion, herbs and eggs come together nicely in this recipe in a frittata-like creation that's bursting with flavor (and tastes even better the next day). It's great fresh, served cold or at room temperature. And it's appropriate for any meal.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower Cake
Another Reason to Love Indian Food
Indian cuisine can work wonders with vegetables, and cauliflower is no exception. In this nutritious side, the potentially bland-tasting veg gets a major boost from chili powder, turmeric, garam masala and cayenne pepper. You cook everything on the stove together, then top the dish with chopped, toasted walnuts.
Get the recipe: Indian Spiced Cauliflower
The Grain-Free Way to Eat Rice
Just as you can turn zucchini into "pasta,"
it's a snap to transform cauliflower into "rice." All you need is a grater; it does a speedy job of shredding the florets into grain-like bits, which you can then sauté or steam. The bits will cook more quickly than their carb-y counterpart and their mild flavor goes with almost anything you'd serve with rice. This simple recipe pairs the cauliflower with fresh herbs, lemon, apricots and walnuts; but, you can easily swap in alternatives, such as dried cranberries and pistachios.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower "Rice" Salad with Herbs and Dried Fruit
A Crispy Pasta Topper
We had no idea cauliflower could be so crunchy until we learned this cooking technique. You put the raw florets into a food processor, along with a handful of pine nuts, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Then, sauté the ingredients with oil and some seasonings for 15 minutes, until golden. Toss the deep-brown crumbs with cooked pasta for a unique and delicious meal.
Get the recipe: Crispy Cauliflower Pasta
A Secret Ingredient in the Classic Dinner Everyone Loves
Cauliflower has one more trick up its sleeve: It makes a surprisingly brilliant substitute for cheese in baked pastas. When you puree it, it binds the various elements of the dish together with a subtle flavor that goes nicely with shells, or noodles, and peas.
Get the recipe: Baked Macaroni and Peas
The Winter Warmer You Can Dress Up (or Down)
Cauliflower seems to lend itself to pureed soups better than almost any other vegetable, and, this winning take on the dish is one of the best we've tried. It's thickened with potatoes and just a splash of cream, so it tastes silky without being overwhelmingly rich. The all-occasion soup works well served with some crusty bread as the first course at a dinner party—or the main on a casual night. You can even serve it ladled onto a plate and topped with fish or shellfish.
Get the recipe: Creamed Cauliflower Soup