First, let me apologize if I got a certain relentlessly cheery 1980s pop song stuck in your head with the blog title. I’ve been punished, it’s now stuck in mine.
There were two things that came across my field of vision recently that led me to this earworm. First, an article on NPR warned me that freaking out about getting stuck in traffic could kill you just as dead as more major life stressors, so stop it. I don’t really freak out about matters of traffic (anymore), but I am guilty of overbooking, chronically running late, and getting all worked up with guilt and anxiety. Hey, did I mention I meant to post this yesterday? Ahem.
Just as I was worrying about worrying, I stumbled across a happy little factoid about cruciferous vegetables significantly reducing mortality rates. I googled here and there and didn’t find consensus on the math of cruciferous super powers , but it seems we can all agree on some degree of less-dying when we eat these tasty veggies. I may not have mastered the anxiety free brain, but I’m covered when it comes to gobbling up cauliflower and friends.
Let’s talk for a minute about how versatile it is, shall we? Cauliflower is a miracle because it’s so light but also creamy and comforting and nutritious. I think our culture’s historical belief in diets ruined many peoples’ relationship with food, mine included for many years. Now if I start thinking, hmm, those jeans are feeling a little snug, I think: what vegetables can I eat more of? Willpower is finite, deprivation is boring and sad. Dreaming up delicious menu additions is way more fun, and it’s how I like to think about food. Cauliflower is one of those foods that can sneak into a million meals.
Have you seen the gadzillions of recipes for cauliflower pizza crust, and more importantly, have you tried it yet? Completely worth the pain-in-the-neck effort if you’ve got the time to cook and squeeze and mix and cook again. Then add pizza toppings and cook again. Phew! I love it and recommend it, but I’m on the lazy side, and rarely get the energy up for the affair. You can also make your crust mix into garlic “breadsticks”, which are a little easier because you get to skip the final topping and cooking step.
Cauliflower tortillas are also a happy find, although they don’t taste like a traditional tortilla. Still very good.
Far easier to make: cauliflower puree, which you just cook until soft and blend until smooth, which only takes 10 minutes or so. You can of course make cauliflower “mashed potatoes.” I do this all the time and love it on its own or as a topper on a shepherds pie type dish, but even more often I use it as a mixer to lighten up other dishes I love. A few of my favorite things:
- Every day alfredo sauce is yummy over zucchini noodles or mixed into a casserole
- Mixed in with refried beans, which means I get to eat more of my favorite part of Mexican dinner
- Mixed with hummus to lighten it up
- Baked in muffin tins with various additions for a twice-baked-potato vibe
Also on the easy side of things: cauliflower rice, which you can whip up in the food processor, no cooking needed. The rice is so easy to use, um, as rice.
- Instant risotto – well almost instant, compared to cooking rice, you cook it up the same way, but you are just cooking long enough for things to get soft and creamy, or just eat it raw and crunchy
- Cauliflower tabouleh
- As a base for for stir fry
And of course it makes a wonderful creamy soup you’d swear was made of delicious but empty starches. Between family allergies and food preferences, traditional clam chowder was crossed off the list a long time ago. But I’ll admit I haven’t completely kicked the craving. How happy was I to find a quick, easy, healthy, pretty close substitute, and just a damn fine soup, no matter what you’re emulating? When I made my first batch and took a sip, I had to call the family over for an emergency tasting session. How is it possible this is so good? And now I whip up a batch whenever the whim strikes, which is often. The recipe is forgiving, as I like it. A bit of this and that and before you know it, you have chowder.
- A head of fresh chopped cauliflower, or a bag of frozen
- 6 cups water
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- Big spoonful of miso
- Big spoonful of Better Than Bouillon organic vegetable base, or broth you have on hand
- A splash of oil
- Dash of sea salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Seasoning of choice (I used Trocomare which has red pepper, herbs, salt and kelp and Old Bay which has paprika and celery salt)
- Black pepper
- Generous sprinkle of Nori (a bit of a crumbled seaweed sheet) for a little seafoody chowder flavor
- Splash of lemon juice
- Spoonful of tomato paste
- Sprinkle of nutritional yeast, if you’re a fan of the nutty cheesy flavor
Pre-soak a handful of cashews for a few hours, if you have time. Otherwise, you can boil and simmer cashews in a pot of saltwater for 20 minutes or so while you’re cooking the soup.
Sauté onions/carrots/celery in a soup pot with oil & sea salt until soft.
Add water, bouillon, and cauliflower
Add spices and Nori
Bring to a boil, then cover and bring it down to a simmer until cauliflower is soft.
While the soup is cooking, blend the soaked cashews with the miso, lemon juice, tomato juice, about 1/2 cup of water until smooth.
Remove the soup from heat and blend with an immersion blender until the soup is mostly pureed. I like to leave a few cauliflower bits intact. It reminds me of potato chunks. Stir in the blended mix and add nutritional yeast.
Are there any cauliflower ideas I missed?