Bland and mushy. Some have even coined this vegetable as “tasteless”.
The humble cauliflower’s plain flavours may not appeal to most, but it happens to be a great ingredient to soak up flavours from spices in your aloo gobi, or potato and cauliflower curry, and work well in a tempura dish. Either battered with flour and fried, or paired with melted cheese – there are many ways to “spice” up the cauliflower.
With new emerging food trends, we’re finding many ways to transform this creamy looking vegetable into a versatile alternative to replace rice, potatoes and grain-based flours.
Cauliflower flour, or rather, cauli-flour appeals to those on a low-carb or ketogenic diet as well as those avoiding gluten for health reasons. Those shunning vegetables may find it difficult to eat the cauliflower as is, so having cauliflower flour is an easy way of getting some of its goodness in our bodies.
Health benefits of cauliflower
First, let’s take a look at why is cauliflower good for you. Chock full of vitamins and minerals, the cauliflower is a no-brainer when it comes to fulfilling your body’s basic nutritional needs. It contains Vitamin C, K, and B6, as well as fibre and essential minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
One cup of raw cauliflower can fulfil nearly 80% of your Vitamin C needs without unnecessary calories, recording a calorie count of 25. The same cup of cauliflower can also meet 10% of your daily fibre needs, help with weight loss, digestion as well as prevent constipation. High fibre intake lowers the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. On top of that, it also contains choline which is important for learning and memory.
What’s also interesting is that the cauliflower has been listed as the 24th vegetable on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under its powerhouse fruits and vegetable category. The cruciferous vegetable has antioxidants and phytonutrients that bear anti-cancer properties. One of these antioxidants is indole-3-carbinol or I3C, that help prevent cellular mutations and reduce oxidative stress from free radicals. Although samples were small in this research, some studies from US-based National Cancer Institute have shown that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower helps to lower risk of prostate, lung and breast cancer.
If you enjoy growing your own vegetables, why not try cauliflower. Just remember that it prefers a cooler season with plenty of sun. Sow the seeds in rich organic matter, and hopefully, in four to five weeks, you’ll be able to harvest your cauliflower head. Just pay it plenty of attention – give it ample water and a nitrogen-rich organic fertiliser. Cauliflower leaves are edible and can be tossed in stir-fries or eaten raw. Use the inner leaves for this recipe, as outer leaves may be a little stringy.
Cauli-flour taste test
If you have made cauliflower rice before, you’ll notice that it has a slightly nutty taste and mild bitter undertones. And making cauliflower flour gives you a similar taste profile. This author wasn’t a fan of the cauliflower taste when using it to replace wheat flour, but stuck to it for health reasons.
But first, let’s find out how to make your own cauliflower flour. It’s a pretty simple process, involving baking and a cheesecloth.
First, you cut the cauliflower head to smaller sized florets. Then puree the florets in batches in a food processor and bake the puree for 15 minutes in a 200-degree celsius oven. Make sure you spread the puree evenly on the tray before baking.
Once done, cool the puree and scoop it into a cheesecloth or fine muslin cloth. Squeeze out all the liquid from that mixture. What’s left in the sack is your cauliflower flour ready for use. You can get roughly four cups of cauliflower flour from a cauliflower head weighing approximately 1 kg.
Recipes that work for you
A quick go-to recipe using cauliflower flour is making a pizza base or crust. Those on a gluten-free diet don’t have to give up on their pizza cravings with the help of this vegetable-based flour.
After you’ve made your cauliflower flour, ensure that is is very dry. Then add in an egg, goat cheese and season with salt and pepper or Italian herbs like rosemary or oregano. Goat cheese works better in binding the elements, giving the crust a sturdier texture. Bake the base so it’s dry, then add on your toppings along with tomato sauce – keep it light so you avoid a soggy pizza base.
You can make a similar base and turn it into crackers, skip the egg and cheese if you prefer a vegan version. Add plenty other ingredients like chia seeds, flax seeds and even coconut flour to spice up the cracker. These crackers are delicious on their own or can be eaten with dips.
Use cauliflower flour in your bread too, by following this recipe. The end result is textures that resemble white bread. The whipped egg whites provide air in the bread and allow for it to rise, preventing the loaf from becoming too dense. Using egg whites may not strictly categorise it as bread in its traditional sense, but cauli-flour gives you options for those avoiding wheat.