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What goes well with cauliflower? Learn the best ingredient pairings, meal ideas, popular flavor combinations, and other helpful tips.
First things first though.
What is Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family along with arugula, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, watercress, and wasabi.
Although the most common color is white, cauliflower can also be green, purple, and orange.
Raw cauliflower has a firm yet spongy texture and a slightly sulfurous/bitter flavor.
To get the best flavor, it’s all about how you cook and prepare it.
WHEN TO BUY
The peak season for cauliflower is autumn and winter, but they’re available year-round. Peep the seasonal produce guide to see what’s in season right now.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look for white, clean heads that are firm with crisp green leaves. Reduce your food waste by saving the leaves after removing them and use in a stir-fry or breakfast hash.
How to Cut
- Turn the cauliflower upside down and cut around the stem with a chef knife or pairing knife to remove the leaves.
- Move the knife in a circular manner around the core until it’s loose enough to pop it out.
- Now you can easily break off the florets with your hands. To get them into smaller pieces, slice through the bottom of the florets (starting with the stem). This will help your florets keep their shape instead of getting lots of crumbly bits.
How To Prepare
Cauliflower can be boiled, braised, deep-fried, pureed, roasted, riced, sautéed, simmered, steamed, or even eaten raw (although most people have a better time digesting it when it’s cooked).
The taste of cauliflower improves when it’s cooked because it takes on whatever flavors you season it with.
What Ingredients Go Well With Cauliflower?
- bell peppers (esp. green), broccoli
- garlic, ginger
- onions (esp. green & red)
- potatoes (esp. red)
- scallions (same as green onion), shallots
- lemon, lime
- cardamom, celery seeds, chile peppers (dried), coriander, cumin, curry powder
- garam masala, ginger (dried or fresh)
- mustard seeds
- paprika, pepper (black & white), poppy seeds
- red pepper flakes
- saffron, salt (kosher & sea)
- truffle (white), turmeric
- bay leaf (dried is more commonly found in the US)
- chives, cilantro
- parsley (flat-leaf) & Chervil (French parsley)
- tarragon, thyme
Nuts & Seeds
- pine nuts
- butter: brown or unsalted butter
- cheese (cheddar, goat or parmesan), cream,
- anchovies, caviar, eggs, mussels, scallops
- bread crumbs
- capers, chili sauce, chocolate & cocoa*, currants (dried)
- dijon mustard
- olive oil, olives (black and green)
- vinegar (red wine or white wine)
*The chocolate and cocoa go well with cauliflower once the vegetable has been caramelized.
Popular Cauliflower Ingredient Pairings
For dairy-free cream use cashew, oat, or canned coconut cream.
- anchovies + red pepper flakes + garlic + olive oil
- bread crumbs + brown butter + parsley
- cilantro + cloves + cumin + turmeric
- cream + sorrel (leafy green)
- curry + apple
- curry + vinegar
- garlic + mint + pasta
- pine nuts + lime
Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile ingredient and is common in Mediterranean, French, and Indian cuisine.
What to Make with Cauliflower
- Creamy Cauliflower Mash
- Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Jicama Carrot Slaw
- ‘Rice’ by adding it to a food processor and pulsing until you’re left with small pieces
- Steam and freeze the florets to add to smoothies for a creamy texture
- Make a soup or curry