March 11, 2019

The cauliflower craze continues

Back in 2015, we wrote about a growing appreciation for cauliflower, and alluded to an article calling it "the next kale." We even provided a mac 'n' cheese recipe that replaces noodles with cauliflower. Since then, we've written about cauliflower, not once, but twice! The truth is, we just can't get enough of this versatile cabbage variety. It's healthy, it can be used as a substitute for a wide variety of classic dishes, and it can be prepared gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. Simply put, cauliflower has something for everyone. If you're an online culinary student who's not cooking with cauliflower, you're seriously missing out.

A veggie of verve and versatility

Despite its typically pallid complexion, cauliflower is an exciting and versatile cooking ingredient for several reasons. The most obvious is its relatively mild flavor. It has a distinct taste, but it's a type-B taste – meaning it effortlessly assumes the taste of pretty much whatever you want it to. It's the blank canvas of vegetables, which also makes it one of the most fun to cook with. Not to mention, it also comes in a purple, orange or green variety. 

Then there's the texture potential. Cauliflower is hard enough and substantial enough to mimic a protein; it's firm enough that it can be ground into a grain-like substance (think cauliflower rice) and, if you so desire, packed into the makings of say, a pizza crust; and it's malleable enough that it can be boiled until soft, and turned into a moist bisque – or mashed potato-like puree.   

Cheesy cauliflower pancakes? Sure, why not?Cheesy cauliflower pancakes? Sure, why not?

As if this culinary contortionist wasn't impressive enough, cauliflower is also healthy. It's low in calories, but high in a variety of nutrients including vitamins C, K and B6, potassium, magnesium, choline and fiber, according to Healthline. It's also a good source of antioxidants and can aid in weight loss. Vegans, vegetarians and people with gluten restrictions can indulge in cauliflower. 

For all of these reasons and more, restaurants all over the world have begun adopting cauliflower. From La Condesa in Austin (culinary students there have no excuse not to check it out, if not just to taste a cauliflower chorizo) to Bocado in Atlanta (where it's served as a puree on fish or in a sandwich with the likes of Thai eggplant), there's no shortage of well-established eateries embracing the potential of this incredible vegetable. 

Cooking with cauliflower

The hardest part about cooking with cauliflower is choosing how you'll do it. Every menu is different, so it's important to think about the most appropriate utility for your patrons. But once you make your decision, there really isn't that much you can't do with cauliflower.

Examples of classically creative applications of cauliflower include pizza crust, hot wings, rice, mashed potatoes and soups. The newest cauliflower craze, according to Food Dive, is cauliflower tortillas. Caulipower, makers of various cauliflower-based products, recently introduced a frozen tortilla product. Restaurants that want to serve a healthy, gluten-free alternative flour alternative may want to take a page out of the punny company's book. For a slightly more adventurous use of cauliflower, consider giving this creamy cauliflower Alfredo recipe a crack, courtesy of Pinch of Yum.

Cauliflower is also well-suited to sweet dishes, like this cauliflower chocolate fudge cake recipe from Old World Garden Farms, or this dairy-free cheesecake, courtesy of The Healthy Foodie.

Mark Twain once said, "Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education," and what a difference that education makes. There isn't much that cauliflower and a good chef can't achieve together.