Cauliflower is one of my absolute favorite vegetables (I can honestly eat a whole head by myself in one sitting), but it wasn’t always this way. Growing up, we didn’t each much cauliflower but when we did it was steamed and boring…until you put the cheese sauce on top.
While I continue to love cauliflower with cheese sauce (I mean, what is there not to love?), I have come to realize that really what you are tasting is the cheese and not the amazing vegetable underneath.
So, in the hopes of helping you to discover the wonderful joy to be found in this lovely vegetable, I wanted to share tips on how to prepare cauliflower and recipes to get you started.
Nutritional Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it is in the same family as broccoli, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts, all nutrient-dense, fantastic additions to our diets.
In particular, cauliflower is high in antioxidants such as Vitamin C, K, and manganese which help your body to have a strong immune system, as well as prevent such illnesses as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
In addition, it’s packed with fiber, which helps to keep things regular and happy in your digestive system, and also helps you to feel full for longer.
How to Prepare a Cauliflower
While you can buy cauliflower already turned into florets or riced (which is a great time saver!), here are some tips to make preparing cauliflower easy.
How to Cut a Cauliflower into Florets
Here is what I have found to be the most efficient way to chop cauliflower florets:
Step 1: Remove the outer leaves.
Step 2: Use a chef’s knife to cut off the stem so that you get a more or less flat bottom.
Step 3: Cut the cauliflower in half.
Step 4: Cut each half in half again to form quarters.
Step 5: Cut off the rest of the stem (I like to save this to dice and add to my florets)
Step 6: Use your fingers to break off florets in the size you want.
Step 7: If necessary, cut larger florets into smaller ones.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice
Making cauliflower rice couldn’t be simpler. There are two ways to make it: in the food processor or with a box grater.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice in the Food Processor
Making cauliflower rice in the food processor is super easy! It only takes 3 steps:
Step 1: Roughly cut up the cauliflower in any way that is easy for you—it doesn’t need to be even or pretty.
Step 2: Set up your food processor with the grating blade.
Step 3: Turn on your food processor and feed the cauliflower pieces through the tube.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice Without a Food Processor
If you don’t have a food processor or are nervous about using one, you can also easily make cauliflower rice with a box grater. All you do is put your box grater down on its side, take the head of cauliflower, and rub it back and forth over the box grater to shred the cauliflower.
How to Cook Cauliflower
Cauliflower can be roasted, sautéed, steamed, and mashed all to great effect. And even better, none of them are hard to do!
How to Roast Cauliflower
To roast cauliflower, preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this step is optional but makes clean up easier)
Toss the cauliflower in oil (I like using olive or coconut oil), salt, pepper, and any other spices you like (chili powder and garam masala are two of my favorites)
Place it onto the baking sheet and make sure that it is in a single layer (if you need to use two baking sheets, go for it and just rotate them once, half-way through roasting)
Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, or until they the florets are starting to brown
How to Sauté Cauliflower
Sautéeing cauliflower is quick and easy, just heat some olive oil in a large skillet, toss in the cauliflower and sauté it, stirring occasionally until it is fork-tender, about 4 – 5 minutes. If you want to make it more interesting, you can add herbs and/or spices such as thyme, basil, chili powder, garam masala, za’atar, or paprika.
How to Steam Cauliflower
Steamed cauliflower is low in fat and simple to do. Put about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a pot and bring the water to a boil. Place the cauliflower into a steamer basket, sprinkle with salt, place the steamer basket over the boiling water, and cover. Allow to steam for 4 – 8 minutes (the time will depend on the size of your florets), or until tender. Remove from the heat, move to a bowl, and season to taste.
How to Mash Cauliflower
To mash cauliflower, follow the steps described above for steaming cauliflower (you can also add some chopped garlic, if desired), but allow it to steam until the florets are very soft, about 8 – 10 minutes.
Remove the florets to a large bowl, if you are using an immersion blender, or into a blender. Add some sour cream or buttermilk, salt, and pepper, and puree until smooth.
Cauliflower Recipes to Get You Started
Here are some great, easy cauliflower recipes to get you started including our massively popular Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice (see recipe below)!
Roasted Cauliflower Buffalo Bites with Blue Cheese Dressing
- 1 large head cauliflower chopped into smallish florets (about 8 cups)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. Smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 3 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot or other buffalo wing sauce
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise or use sour cream, plain yogurt or a combination
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 6 stalks celery cut in thirds
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or rub it lightly with oil, and put it in the oven to heat up.
- Combine the paprika and garlic powder in a small bowl. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the oil, then toss it with the spices to coat it evenly.
- Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast it for 15 – 20 minutes until browned in spots and tender, tossing after 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, In a small serving bowl, combine the cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar.
- A few minutes before the cauliflower is done, melt the butter and toss it with the hot sauce. When the cauliflower is done roasting, toss it in the large bowl used earlier with the butter-hot sauce mixture, return it the baking sheet and roast it for 3 more minutes.
- Remove it from the oven and serve it with the celery and blue cheese sauce.
Want more ideas? Check out my post on how to make cauliflower rice and cauliflower couscous for more tips and recipes!