A Canadian Recipe for Another Favorite Vegetable
Did your box of baking soda expire? You meant to replace it a week ago. Or did some poor woodland critter die behind that giant vat of mayonnaise? You ask yourself those questions while standing with the fridge door open, peering beyond the ketchup, last night’s roast chicken, and the curry you brought home in a brown paper bag. But one question dominates? Did someone fart in my refrigerator?
If you’re like me, then you love vegetables and don’t discriminate against them because of the unpleasant odor they leave in your fridge after cooking. You eat them for their flavorful appeal and their invaluable health benefits.
What makes certain vegetables release that unpleasant odor? Blame it on sulfur found in the cruciferous vegetable family. Here is a simplified list of sulfur-containing vegetables: cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnip, and radish. Other sulfur cousins are onions, asparagus, tomato, nuts, tomato, garlic, sweet potatoes.
What they all have in common is that they release sulfur when cooked and are incredibly beneficial for your health. They are a great source of soluble fiber, Vitamin K and C, potassium, and contain the building blocks of amino acids and vitamins for healthy skin*, bones, nerve cells and tissue, and assist in joint and liver health. And it is possible that they are responsible for reducing the risk of cancer, decrease the risk of diabetes, and obesity, aid in digestion and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This week, I’m concentrating on one of my favorites, that pearly head of cauliflower.
To reduce the risk of stinking up your kitchen, eat these florets raw. But there are countless delicious recipes for cooking them as well. One tip is to reduce overcooking them and eating them while still crips, or cooking under 5 minutes. You can also reduce the odor by adding bits of bread should you decide to boil rather than sauteing or steaming them; or add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to keep the florets white and the aroma to a minimum. Another helpful hint is to avoid cooking in an aluminum or iron pan, consider pyrex or glass. But the best and most efficient way of avoiding that unusual and lingering odor in your fridge: eat the entire dish you prepared for dinner.
Tips for growing cauliflower in Canada. Surprisingly, most of our cauliflower is imported from California, yet cauliflower isn’t particularly fond of hot climates. Here are some tips for growing your own: Start in seed trays and set out in 4-6 weeks in warm soil (50F) and space 18 inches apart, and 30 inches between rows. These seedlings are very compatible with bush beans, beets, celery, cucumber, but should avoid climbing beans, tomato, peppers, and strawberries. Keep an eye out for white butterflies, they may be pretty but will decimate your crop. To avoid losing your cruciferous bounty, invest in netting. It’s environmentally friendly and safer for you and the creatures inhabiting the garden. You might also consider planting companion plants that ward off the enemy while encouraging beneficial insects. Try planting marigolds, thyme, wormwood, peppermint, buckwheat, and yarrow.
*Did you know that the human skin is also our largest organ. It pays to take good care of it and not only from the outside. Our skin acts as the outer wall of a fortress and is crucial for our immune system’s defense. It regulates our temperature and allows us to experience touch. Besides, we’d look weird without our skin on.
Roasted Head of Cauliflower Recipe
One of my favorite ways to cook cauliflower is to bake the entire head without cutting it apart. This also works well on the BBQ and makes for an impressive table presentation.
Trim excess stem, remove leaves, wash the head of cauliflower thoroughly, pat to dry.
Remove random florets. You will stuff the holes with butter/oil and cheese mixture, approximately 10, ½ inch holes.
Preheat oven to 375F.
(optional, blanch entire head for a few minutes to reduce the baking time, a great method for those who prefer their cauliflower well cooked.)
Prepare a mixture of olive oil (or preferred oil or melted butter) and add seasoning of choice. I prefer garlic, fresh or powder, a hint of lemon zest, fresh ground pepper. Brush oil mixture over the head of cauliflower and place in a baking dish (glass with a lid works well).
Cut cheese of choice (cheddar, mozzarella, gouda--you can’t go wrong) into pegs and stuff into the holes you carved out. Place right-side-up in preheated oven for 30 minutes (covered). Remove the lid and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes (if you blanched the head, this cooking time is significantly reduced, and the texture will be softer) test for crispness, best not to overcook.
Set the oven to broil. Sprinkle cauliflower with grated parmesan, or for cheese lovers, sprinkle with additional shredded cheddar, etc. for extra gooey flavor. Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly brown.
Serve whole, slice as needed. It’s an excellent way to serve a family favorite.
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