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JeanMarie Brownson: It’s all about cauliflower

JeanMarie Brownson, Tribune Content Agency on

Cauliflower is experiencing more than 15 minutes of fame. A great deal of the popularity arises from internet recipes for cauliflower “steak.” Supermarkets sell frozen “riced” cauliflower and gluten-free pizza crusts. But nothing beats freshly cooked, slightly toothsome, peak-of-the-season florets on our table.

During the season, deep purple and lime green varieties, as well as spiky Romanesco, join the pretty white heads of this member of the cabbage family. We snap up bright orange cauliflower, aka cheddar cauliflower, at produce markets and farmers stands to roast, boil or grill.

The colorful cauliflowers retain their pretty hues when briefly blanched or roasted. Blanched florets, in assorted colors, makes a picnic-worthy salad to serve alongside grilled sausages or pork chops. Just three minutes in boiling water cooks cauliflower florets to the perfect stage for a salad. Drain well and toss with the following recipe for chunky white wine vinaigrette studded with olives, raisins and capers.

For a meatless main, roast a variety of cauliflowers with piquant poblanos and red onions. Serve as is for a vegetable side dish or top the warm mixture with feta cheese cubes and toasted pumpkin seeds for a meatless main or the filling for warm tortillas.

Look for cauliflower heads free of brown or soft spots. If bright-green, unwilted leaves surround the head, definitely cook them; they taste great steamed or roasted. Large, compact heads lend themselves to slicing into “steaks” for roasting or grilling. Smaller heads make beautiful florets: Simply use a paring knife to remove the core before separating the head into pieces just slightly larger than bite-size. Reserve the cores and any trimmings for a creamy soup.

Colorful Cauliflower with Roasted Peppers and Cilantro

 

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Note: Using two baking sheets helps the vegetables cook evenly and brown nicely. Use any color cauliflower here, they all taste similar, or mix it up and combine several colors.

8 loosely-packed cups (total 24 ounces) cauliflower florets in bite-sized pieces (use assorted colors if desired)

2 medium-size poblano peppers, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed

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