Cauliflower, once seen as mostly a side dish or one of many ingredients in a recipe, has taken a life of its own in recent years. The uptick in popularity for this vegetable stems from novel uses that make it effective in a variety of applications. From a rice substitute to a replacement for flour in pizza crusts, there are many innovative ways to incorporate cauliflower in your recipes.
Students at the best culinary schools in Colorado should keep the many uses of cauliflower in mind as they work to develop their own menus.
Gluten-free and lower-carb options
Part of the rising tide boosting cauliflower is its easy substitution for rice, flour and similar ingredients that include gluten and significant doses of carbohydrates. A well-rounded menu for most restaurants now includes at least a few gluten-free and low-carb options, and cauliflower is ready to fill that role. One popular option for home and restaurant use is substituting cauliflower for flour in a pizza crust.
The Food Network offers a simple and effective recipe for making cauliflower pizza dough. You simply break a head of cauliflower into individual florets and use a food processor to pulse them until they reach a fine, uniform consistency. The pulsed cauliflower is then steamed, drained and cooled.
Food Network recommends combining mozzarella and Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and two eggs into the mixture, but chefs can experiment and pick the best combination for specific pizza recipes. From there, it's a simple task to spread the mixture into a shape and size similar to a pizza crust and then bake for 20 minutes. You can then add sauce, cheese and many other toppings to this par-baked crust, followed by baking for another 10 minutes.
Riced cauliflower is another effective option in the gluten-free and low-carb realm, replacing rice grains with finely cut pieces of cauliflower. Bon Appetit's approach suggested using a food processor and coarse shredding disk, then removing any moisture by pressing between two layers of paper towels on a baking sheet.
From there, it's a quick process of sauteeing the processed cauliflower and any other ingredients. Bon Appetit used scallions and a jalapeno, along with cilantro, salt and pepper to finish the dish, but there are plenty of other options to consider. You may want to emulate a classic, Chinese-American style fried rice, serve it as a simple side without many other ingredients or go in a completely different direction. Thanks to the versatility of cauliflower, any of these options are possible while keeping total carb count low and removing gluten from the equation.
Deep frying cauliflower
On the other end of the nutritional spectrum from the recipes above is deep-fried cauliflower. It can be a dish suitable for vegans, depending on the ingredients in the batter and sauce, and in almost all preparations is a great vegetarian option. This dish has its origins in the Levant, with no breading and various forms of tahini sauce, pita bread and vegetables as accompaniments. The Americanized version often includes breading and other ingredients to simulate the flavor and appearance of boneless chicken or similar deep-fried treats.
Serious Eats shared a recipe that draws on the classic Buffalo wing, using hot sauce and oil to create the well-known flavor associated with that dish, and a simple batter that takes only 15 minutes to complete when starting from scratch.
Adding cauliflower to your menu should be an especially easy task, considering its many uses. Start developing your own recipes to see how versatile this ingredient can be.