No sooner have I turned my attentions to a season of summer salad blog posts when the skies cloud over, rain sets in for a staycation and thoughts U-turn back to hunkering down with a large plate of comfort food. And if you can bring together the comforts of macaroni, cauliflower and cheese you really are onto a winner – carb and cruciferous heaven.
Grown to be in season for most of the year, so perpetually available, my heart nevertheless skips a beat when I see a display of caulis. Their distinctiveness knows no bounds, from the flavour to the brain-like shape. If you have any faith in the ancient Chinese ‘Doctrine of Signatures’ claiming that many foods mimic the part of the body they benefit, then it follows that cauliflower is good for lung health, since it resembles alveoli in the lungs. That’s alveoli not aioli – the branching parts of the lungs, not the garlic dip.
By all accounts then it should also be good for the brain since it resembles a large one – and it is – since it contains phytonutrients (plant-based anti-inflammatories and detoxifying compounds) particularly choline which supports brain function and memory. The head of the cauliflower, also known as the curds, is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamins B (folates), Vitamin K and fibre whilst containing very few calories. It has a bile-binding function too, helping to rid the body of cholesterol.
Cauliflower can be steamed or roasted as florets or steaks rubbed in oil and spices, but I beg of you – please don’t boil it! Unless you mean for it to be a purée. Cut into tiny florets, or whirred up into cauliflower “rice” in the food processor, it makes a crunchy addition to salad. It also lends itself well to stir-fries and spiced dishes. But for maximum comfort from the brassica florets, steaming it and slavering it with cheese sauce to make Cauli Mac is by far the best way to go.
PS There is one thing you can do with cauliflower that I wouldn’t recommend – that is to boil it, mash it and use it as a filling in a wrap. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. A dear departed friend, Adrienne Wood (née Dawes), goes down in history for many reasons but this infamous mush of hers says it all and will forever make us smile. RIP Adrienne, Queen of the Cauliflower Wrap.