Chatelaine Kitchen

5 things you didn't know about cauliflower

It's no longer the boring vegetable from the holiday crudité platter — it's a star ingredient on dinner plates and restaurant menus everywhere.
By Louisa Clements
Cauliflower Cauliflower (Photo, Sian Richards.)

Cauliflower has gone from the much-ignored, raw vegetable from the holiday crudité platter to the trendy vegetable found on restaurant menus all over the world. With a mild taste that becomes nutty and caramelized when roasted, cauliflower has become the star of the show for both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. If you're looking to learn more about this of-the-moment vegetable, here are five things you may not know:

1. It's related to kale. Cauliflower is part of the Brassica genus family, which means it's related to brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale! While it can be found year-round, it peaks in the fall and spring. When choosing cauliflower, look for heads that are heavy for their size with creamy white florets.

2. It's packed with Vitamin C. Forget about oranges; reach for cauliflower when flu season hits. This vegetable is loaded with vitamins; 1 cup contains about 75% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Try adding a nutritional punch to dinner by making our faux alfredo sauce with cauliflower.


3. It comes in four colours. While white cauliflower is most the commonly found in stores, and when in-season, you may find striking coloured varieties on shelves. Keep your eyes peeled for yellow, orange, green and even purple cauliflower. These varieties have slightly different flavour and nutritional profiles, for example, orange cauliflower is slightly sweeter and has more beta-carotene than white, while purple cauliflower, also slightly sweeter and nuttier, is high in anthocyanin, a healthy antioxidant commonly found in purple vegetables.

Did you know? Green cauliflower is sometimes labelled as “broccoflower” creating the confusion that it is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower (it isn’t).

Mixed cauliflower Fast vegetable facts: Cauliflower is white because its thick leaves surround it while growing, protecting it from the sun. Because of this, the production of chlorophyll — the chemical reaction that turns plants green — never occurs. (Photo, Sian Richards.)

4. The stems and leaves are edible. The florets are the part of the cauliflower most often steamed or roasted (but can also be eaten raw or pickled), but don’t throw out the leaves and stems. These parts of the vegetables are often tossed in the compost but instead, cut down on food waste and save them to add them to homemade vegetable broth.

5. It's reactive with certain metals. Be extra careful when choosing cookware for cooking cauliflower. The vegetable contains sulphur compounds, which will react with aluminum and iron resulting in a discoloured cauliflower.


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