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Seasonal Eats: Cut up your Cauliflower!

Cauliflower Heads at the Hollywood Farmer's Market (Heather Parlato/LAist)
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Another member of the brassica family that we love to eat in winter is cauliflower, which is in season late winter through spring in California. Though it seems vegetal, we’re actually eating floral meristems of the plant. Usually the leaves are overlooked, though I have plucked some from the garden before the heads are mature for a sauté or frittata, mature leaves may be added to those used in preparing vegetable stock. Cauliflower is typically white, but also comes in a light orange variety [containing 25 times the Vitamin C of the white variety] and purple, which contains the antioxidant anthocyanin. Cauliflower has a glycemic load of 2 and is a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese.

The best preparation for cooking cauliflower is to steam it in a vegetable steamer insert in a pot over an inch of water, maybe 10-15 minutes. If you’re not sure how to cut apart the florets, here’s an explanation. Only steam until al dente, so it doesn’t lose shape or get mushy [test with a fork or taste a piece]. I like a simple steaming of cut florets tossed in a lemon mustard vinaigrette, or sometimes I’ll put them in a baking dish, dress with lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan and bake 10-15 minutes to toast it up. Try out this broccoli and cauliflower with lemon mustard and chive butter. You can also start with raw florets in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and your favorite spices and roast for a nice, toasty, nutty flavor, such as roasted cauliflower with kalamata vinaigrette. Experiment with starting out covered to steam through, and then uncover to brown the outside. A quick boiling of florets will put you in the position to pickle them up as well.