Cooks Exchange

Cook's Exchange: Cauliflower is the "in" veggie for 2015

Bathing cauliflower in cheese sauce may be the standard way to prepare it, but chefs and home cooks are casting new eyes on this low-fat, low-carb vegetable that is high in vitamins and fiber.

Last week, chef Emeril Lagasse proclaimed cauliflower as the new dipper on "Good Morning, America" as he used the roasted veggie instead of chips.

During the low-carb craze in 2002-2004, mashed cauliflower was being served in place of potatoes. Some interesting recipes came from that.

Cauliflower is coming onto the food scene again, and this time as more than sitting on the sidelines. Chefs and home cooks are using it for main dishes, especially in curries, soups and stews, appetizers and, yes, sides.

Catherine Nelson, who lives in Texas, shares recipes from time to time. Her latest kitchen creation? Whipped cauliflower.

"I made this tonight, and it was really good. Carl liked it a lot," she said. "The original recipe was in Parade magazine, but this is how I made it. It's very easy, Nelson said. "I also like cauliflower roasted and also roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli."

WHIPPED CAULIFLOWER (BETTER THAN MASHED POTATOES)

Cut a large head of cauliflower into florets. Put into a large pot with 1 large clove of garlic (grated, mashed or chopped, but I grated it on a microplane), 1/2 cup half and half (or milk) and about 3 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook covered until the cauliflower is very tender, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 slice of smoked provolone cheese torn into bits (about 1 ounce). Mash cauliflower and cheese mixture with the liquids left in the pot with a potato masher (or puree with a hand blender.) Serves 4.

-- Submitted by Catherine Nelson

This is a favorite roasted cauliflower recipe from Eating Well magazine in 2008. I love balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese is a given. My husband simply likes olive oil and balsamic poured over cauliflower or Brussels sprouts and roasts in the oven.

BALSAMIC AND PARMESAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

8 cups 1-inch-thick slices cauliflower florets, (about 1 large head; see tip)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

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