25 Delicious Ways to Transform Cauliflower
Here’s how to turn ordinary cauliflower into something new and exciting!
1. Cauliflower Crust Pizza Pulse the florets from one 1 1/4-pound head cauliflower in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1/3 cup parmesan, 6 tablespoons potato starch, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder. Press into a thin 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment. Slide the crust (on the parchment) onto a preheated pizza stone or inverted baking sheet. Bake at 475˚ until golden, 20 minutes. Top with 1/4 cup marinara sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella and a pinch of red pepper flakes; bake 5 more minutes.
2. Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Mushrooms Make Cauliflower Crust Pizza (above), replacing the marinara sauce with ricotta (seasoned with salt and pepper). Top with the mozzarella and sautéed mushrooms; bake 5 more minutes. Top with chopped chives.
3. Fettuccine with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauté 2 sliced garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat until just softened, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the florets from 1 small head cauliflower, 1 cup half-and-half and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth. Cook 12 ounces fettuccine as the label directs; drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Toss the pasta with the cauliflower sauce, reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg; season with salt. Top with more parmesan and pepper.
4. Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Make the sauce for Fettuccine with Cauliflower Alfredo (above) using only 1/2 small head cauliflower. Puree, adding 1 cup each grated white cheddar and Monterey Jack and another 1/2 cup half-and-half. Cook 8 ounces elbow macaroni as the label directs, adding the florets from the remaining 1/2 head cauliflower halfway through; drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce and the reserved cooking water. Spread in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; top with more grated cheese. Bake at 425˚ until bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
5. Cauliflower Gnocchi Microwave two 10-ounce bags frozen riced cauliflower as the label directs; let cool. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess water. Puree in a food processor with 1 egg yolk, 3 tablespoons potato starch, 2 tablespoons parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt until well combined, 45 seconds. Divide into 4 pieces and shape each into a 3/4-inch-thick log. Slice the logs into 1-inch pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 2 hours. Sauté the frozen gnocchi in butter in a nonstick skillet until browned, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup marinara sauce and simmer until hot.
6. Cauliflower Parmesan Toss the florets from 1 small head cauliflower with 3 tablespoons each melted butter and olive oil in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup each breadcrumbs and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper; toss. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 425˚ until tender and crisp, 35 minutes. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish and top with 2 cups marinara sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan. Broil until bubbling, 3 to 4 minutes. Top with chopped basil.
7. Fried Cauliflower Sandwiches Slice two 1-inch-thick steaks from the center of 1 large head cauliflower, cutting through the core. Very finely chop some of the remaining florets to make 1/4 cup. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper in a shallow dish; add the chopped florets, then stir in 1 tablespoon buttermilk to make clumps. Whisk 1 cup buttermilk with 2 tablespoons hot sauce in a shallow bowl; add the cauliflower steaks and turn to coat, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing to adhere. Deep-fry in 350˚ vegetable oil until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to drain. Serve on toasted buns with lettuce and tartar sauce.
8. Barbecue Cauliflower Steaks Slice two 1-inch-thick steaks from the center of 1 large head cauliflower, cutting through the core. Season with salt and pepper. Microwave in a large bowl, covered, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Brush with olive oil. Grill over medium-high heat until marked, about 2 minutes per side. Continue to grill, flipping and basting with 1/3 cup barbecue sauce every 2 minutes, until tender and lightly charred, about 12 minutes.
9. Cauliflower Steaks with Caper Sauce Slice two 1-inch-thick steaks from the center of 1 large head cauliflower, cutting through the core. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet at 475˚ until browned and tender, 30 minutes. Sauté 2 chopped garlic cloves and 3 mashed anchovies in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat, 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 2 teaspoons each capers and lemon juice; season with salt. Serve the cauliflower topped with the sauce.
10. Moroccan Cauliflower Tagine Sauté the florets from 1 small head cauliflower, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in one 15-ounce can chickpeas (drained), 1/2 cup each halved dried apricots and prunes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 4 teaspoons ras el hanout. Add 2 cups water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until tender, 15 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt. Serve over couscous; top with toasted sliced almonds and chopped cilantro.
11. Cauliflower Tabbouleh Roughly chop 2 cups parsley and 1 cup mint in a food processor. Add the florets from 1 small head cauliflower and pulse until the cauliflower is in rice-size pieces. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 diced apple, 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts, 2 sliced scallions, 1 grated small garlic clove, 1/4 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
12. Cauliflower Curry Sauté 2 chopped small tomatoes, 1 chopped small red onion, 1 sliced serrano chile and 2 teaspoons each grated garlic and ginger in 3 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-high heat until a thick paste forms, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder, then the florets from 1 small head cauliflower, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover and cook until mostly dry. Season with salt. Stir in some chopped cilantro.
13. Tacos with Cauliflower Tortillas Pulse the florets from one 1 1/4-pound head cauliflower in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1/3 cup parmesan, 6 tablespoons potato starch, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder. Working in batches, drop 20 firmly packed scoops (2 tablespoons each) onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, then press into thin 4-inch circles. Bake at 450˚ until browned around the edges, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool, then peel the cauliflower tortillas off the parchment. Toast each tortilla in a dry skillet. Fill with taco fillings.
14. Kung Pao Cauliflower Cut 1 medium head cauliflower into small florets; stir-fry in 3 tablespoons peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 4 scallions (cut into 1-inch pieces) and 1/2 teaspoon each red pepper flakes and Sichuan peppercorns; stir-fry 30 seconds. Whisk 2 tablespoons black vinegar with 1 tablespoon each brown sugar, soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine; add to the skillet and cook, stirring, until dry. Season with salt. Top with chopped cilantro.
15. Cauliflower Fried “Rice” Sauté 1 chopped red bell pepper and 1 cup chopped sugar snap peas in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until tender, 3 minutes. Add 3 chopped scallions and 1 tablespoon each chopped garlic and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add one 10-ounce bag frozen riced cauliflower and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 minutes. Whisk 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce with 1 tablespoon each toasted sesame oil and mirin; stir into the cauliflower mixture.
16. Za’atar Fried Cauliflower Mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons each za’atar and kosher salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder; whisk in 1 cup cold water. Dip the florets from 1 small head cauliflower in the batter to coat. Deep-fry in 365˚ vegetable oil until crisp and golden, about 8 minutes; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with more za’atar and salt. Whisk 1/3 cup tahini with 1/4 cup each water and lemon juice and 1 grated garlic clove; thin with more water if needed. Serve with the cauliflower.
17. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites Mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder; whisk in 1 cup cold water. Dip the florets from 1 small head cauliflower in the batter to coat. Deep-fry in 365˚ vegetable oil until crisp and golden, about 8 minutes; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Whisk 1/2 cup Buffalo hot sauce, 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 tablespoon honey in a large bowl. Add the fried cauliflower; toss. Top with celery leaves. Serve with blue cheese dressing.
18. Cauliflower, Leek and Potato Soup Sauté the florets from 1 small head cauliflower, 2 chopped leeks, 1 large russet potato (peeled and chopped), 8 sage leaves and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in 3 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add 6 cups water; cook until very tender, 15 minutes. Working in batches, puree in a blender with 1/2 cup heavy cream. Return to the pot and season with salt.
19. Cauliflower Minestrone Sauté 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery stalks and 2 chopped carrots in 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until tender, 10 minutes; season with salt. Add one 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (crushed), 5 cups water, 4 cups chicken broth, 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, 2 bay leaves, 1 piece parmesan rind and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer, then add the florets from 1 medium head cauliflower and 1 chopped zucchini. Cook until very tender, 35 to 40 minutes, adding 1/2 cup ditalini in the last 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the parmesan rind.
20. Cauliflower Greek Salad Whisk 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard and chopped oregano and 1 grated garlic clove in a large bowl. Whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil. Add 1/2 medium head shaved cauliflower, 2 thinly sliced tomatoes, 1 halved and thinly sliced English cucumber, 1/2 thinly sliced red onion and 1/2 cup each halved pitted kalamata olives and crumbled feta. Season with salt and pepper; toss.
21. Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Bring 12 cups water, 1/3 cup kosher salt, 6 smashed thick slices ginger and 1 tablespoon coriander seeds to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 whole large head cauliflower (leaves trimmed), stem-side down; cook until just tender when pierced with a knife, 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a baking sheet. Brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast at 450˚ until browned and tender at the stem, 25 to 30 minutes. Mix 3 tablespoons melted butter with 2 tablespoons harissa; brush all over the cauliflower. Broil until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Top with chopped mint.
22. Cauliflower Giardiniera Toss the florets from 1 small head cauliflower with 1 sliced red bell pepper, 2 thinly sliced celery stalks, 2 thinly sliced carrots, 1/2 sliced red onion and 1/4 cup kosher salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate 4 hours. Rinse well. Combine 1 1/2 cups each cider vinegar and water, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons each mustard seeds and coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a saucepan and bring to a simmer; cook until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the vegetables and let cool. Refrigerate overnight.
23. Garlic-Herb Mashed Cauliflower Cook the florets from 1 large head cauliflower in boiling salted water until tender, 10 to 12 minutes; drain. Puree in a food processor with one 5-ounce package garlic-herb cheese (such as Boursin); season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon each chopped chives and parsley. Top with more chives.
24. Cauliflower Agrodolce Toss the florets from 1 large head cauliflower with 3 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 500˚ until browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Bring 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons each sugar and golden raisins, 1 sliced small shallot and a large pinch of salt to a simmer in a small skillet; cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Spoon over the cauliflower. Top with toasted pine nuts and torn mint.
25. Cauliflower Hummus Toss the florets from 1 medium head cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400˚ until tender, 35 minutes, adding 1/2 cup water to the baking sheet in the last 5 minutes. Puree in a food processor with 1/3 cup tahini, 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 small garlic clove and 1 teaspoon ground coriander until smooth. Season with more lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve with vegetables.
Photographs by Ralph Smith