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These days I find myself asking, “Is there anything cauliflower can’t do?” Until recently, I viewed cauliflower as a colorless, tasteless addition to otherwise tempting crudités. Picked last from every platter and a host’s worst nightmare… what are we to do with all this raw cauliflower? Following years of neglect, cauliflower has finally fought its way out of the post-party trash bin and into the hearts of us all.
Alas, the secret is out! You don’t have to like cauliflower in order to find it useful. For perhaps the greatest gift cauliflower has to offer is to be everything in the world but itself. Once overlooked, now the most versatile vegetable in your kitchen. This cruciferous genius can be your next pizza crust, vegan buffalo wing, roast, dairy-free Alfredo sauce, low-carb rice, or faux potato salad. Today, it can easily replace your run-of-the-mill roasted red pepper hummus.
Smoky cauliflower hummus: yet another delicious avenue for this highly transformable ingredient. A descendent of the wild cabbage, its heritage dates back to ancient Greek and Roman history. Consumed for centuries, even served as a royal delicacy to King Louis XIV, cauliflower is relatively new to the United States. Though it was not commercially available until the 1920s, America is making up for lost time with our newfound cauliflower craze. We’re sneaking this highly nutritious plant into a variety of recipes, oftentimes lowering sugar and carbohydrate content and increasing fiber and digestibility. Arguably one of the healthiest foods on Earth, there’s not much cauliflower can’t do – and our health is benefiting!
Why we love it:
- It’s been discovered that cauliflower supports three body systems that are closely connected to cancer prevention. These include: the body’s detox system, antioxidant system, and anti-inflammatory system.
- Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and collards. These vegetables are reputable for their high phytochemical, vitamin, mineral, and fiber content.
- Cruciferous vegetables carry phytonutrients called glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that are broken down into metabolites, possessing antibiotic-like abilities and supporting the activation of detoxification enzymes. Glucosinolates can be converted to isothiocyanate molecule, ITC, an anti-inflammatory compound, and aid the body’s defense against viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
- One cup of cauliflower contains around 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, effectively reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.
- Cauliflower promotes a healthy nervous system by providing folate and vitamin B6. It is also a great source for Vitamin K, an anti-inflammatory nutrient and necessary component for bone-mineral density and blood clotting.
Smoky Cauliflower Hummus
- 1/2 head cauliflower (1 to 1 1/2 lbs.), trimmed and cut into 2-in. florets (about 4 cups florets)
- 2 tablespoons coconut or avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- About 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
- Preheat oven to 450°. Put cauliflower florets in a large bowl. Add oil, paprika, 1/2 tsp. salt, cumin, and chili flakes. Toss to coat thoroughly.
- Spread florets evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once, until florets are cooked through and very crispy and charred, (20-25 minutes). Let cool.
- Put 1/2 cup warm water in a food processor with roasted cauliflower, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.
- Blend, adding more water if needed (up to 1/4 cup), scraping sides often until you have a creamy purée, about 4 minutes. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if you like.
- Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of smoked paprika.
Make ahead: Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
(Recipe by Chef Lynda Lacher)
Chef Kylee Snyder is a recent graduate of NTI’s Natural Food Chef Program. She currently leads nutritional cooking classes and provides holistic health coaching that has been known to cause deep affection towards vegetables. Find her on Instagram @rendezfoodhhc.
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