Get Fresh & Fruity Cauliflower

Get Fresh & Fruity Cauliflower

Class 1 - Great Britain

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Cauliflower

Pronounce it: coll-ee-fl-ow-ah

A brassica, like cabbage and broccoli, cauliflower is a mass of tiny, tightly packed flower heads (called curds), which grow from a thick central stem to form a single, round head, cupped by green leaves. It has a firm, almost waxy texture, and a mild, delicate flavour. Most cauliflowers are white, but it's also possible to find green and purple varieties, as well as the sweeter Romanesco cauliflower, with its distinctive pointed florets. Like all brassicas, cauliflower smells very unpleasant if overcooked, so brief cooking is essential.

Availability

All year round, but at its best from mid December through to mid April.

Choose the best

Go for cauliflowers with pure white heads with no discolouration, and crisp green leaves. The colour of the base is a good indication of how recently it's been picked - the whiter, the fresher.

Prepare it

Cut off the surrounding leaves (if they're fresh, they can be cooked, too). For large cauliflowers, cut off individual florets from the central stem and cut again if necessary. You should end up with florets of a comparable size, so that they all cook at the same pace. Then wash. Smaller, baby cauliflowers can be cooked whole.

Store it

In perforated bag in a cool dark place, or the fridge. It will keep for several days.

Cook it

The florets are great used raw in a salad or as part of a crudité selection served with dips. Cooked cauliflower florets keep their shape best when steamed (5-10 minutes) - remember to place them upright in the steamer. It can also be boiled (takes 5-10 minutes for florets; around 10 minutes for a whole cauliflower). For both cooking methods, test regularly with the tip of a knife to make sure they don't overcook.

    Cauliflower recipes

    Cauliflower cheese with salmon

    Cauliflower cheese with salmon

    By James Martin

    It is incredibly versatile as you can see from our wealth of recipes - from curries, to soups to the comforting cauliflower cheese. Inexpensive and local, it ticks all the right boxes, so don't skimp on this classic British vegetable.

    Recipes

    Main course

    Coconut prawn curry with cauliflower 'rice'Coconut prawn curry with cauliflower 'rice'

    By Sunil Vijayakar

    Lighter butternut squash and spinach curry with cauliflower 'rice'Lighter butternut squash and spinach curry with cauliflower 'rice'

    By Fiona Hunter

    Lighter chilli con carne with cauliflower 'rice' Lighter chilli con carne with cauliflower 'rice'

    By Fiona Hunter

    Sausage, cauliflower and fennel seed bread pudding

    By Claire Thomson

    Fried scallops with curried cauliflower and coconut sauce

    By Glynn Purnell

    Light meals and snacks

    Goats cheese ravioli, spiced cauliflower and quails eggs with a caper and sultana dressing

    By Frederick Forster

    Prawns with cauliflower 'couscous'

    By Fiona Hunter

    Roast cauliflower with cashew nuts

    By The Hairy Bikers

    Rainbow vegetable‚couscous

    By The Hairy Bikers

    Cured mackerel with pickled vegetables and sweet cured gooseberries

    By Matt Tebbutt

    Starters and nibbles

    Scouse eggs Scouse eggs

    By Simon Rimmer

    Poached duck egg yolk, cauliflower pur©e and black pudding crumble

    By Glynn Purnell

    Roast scallops, curry and piccalilli

    By Tom Aikens

    Pakora with mango chutney

    By Simon Rimmer

    Pan fried scallops with caramelised cauliflower pur©e and cumin velout©

    By Michael Caines

    Side dishes

    Spiced cauliflowerSpiced cauliflower

    By Anjie Mosher

    Curried cauliflower with spinachCurried cauliflower with spinach

    By Tom Kerridge

    Cauliflower cheese

    By The Hairy Bikers

    Eastern slaw

    By Sabrina Ghayour

    Other

    PiccalilliPiccalilli

    Instant Punjabi-style pickleInstant Punjabi-style pickle

    By Madhur Jaffrey

    Hot mustard pickleHot mustard pickle

    By The Hairy Bikers

    Traditional piccalilli

    By Ed Baines

    Summer pickle

    By Richard Corrigan

    Buyer's guide

    Romanesco is a variety of green cauliflower with pointed, lime-green curds. It is more delicate than the standard variety and cooks more quickly. You may also find orange or purple ones in farmers markets and farm shops.

    Choose cauliflowers with firm, compact, creamy-white heads, stout fresh leaves, and clean white stalks. Avoid any with limp, yellowing leaves, slimy stalks or spotted brown curds.

    In season from February to May and again from August to December.

    Storage

    A good, undamaged head will keep loosely wrapped for over a week in the fridge. Supermarkets tend to cut off the leaves, but in fact they give the delicate curd extra protection.

    To freeze, divide the head into florets and wash. Blanch in boiling water, drain, plunge into iced water and drain again. Transfer to freezer bags, label and seal. Cook from frozen.

    Preparation

    Trim off the leaves, cut off the core and separate the individual florets. Steam, fry, stir-fry or eat the florets raw in salads or eat as crudités with dips. Serve as a vegetable accompaniment to meat and poultry dishes, or use in soups, fritters, bakes, curries and, of course, cauliflower cheese. It is also a major ingredient in piccalilli. Try roasting, it really concentrates the flavour.

    Cauliflower Article by Clarissa Hyman


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