Step aside, kale. When it comes to satisfying vegetables, the cruciferous camp wins—and it’s not the trendy green leaf that takes first prize. Cauliflower’s snowy orb is milder in flavor than its cousin broccoli, but its texture is also denser, meaning it can stand in for meat and poultry when you’re craving a dinner that’s hearty but meat-free. Take a cue from meat-forward meals like centerpiece roasts, steaks, and curries to take cauliflower’s raw potential and cook it into something worthy of a main meal.
Give It A Spice Rub
Cauliflower’s tight, compact florets can stand up to a generous coating of spice. In a salad with Spiced Cauliflower, Pickled Fig, and Almonds, shipping this month from Plated, the addition of bright, sweet pickled fig and the crunch of almonds combines to create a super-salad—light but filling, complex in contrasts, and just really delicious.
Slice It Into Steaks
There are many ways to approach the cauliflower steak, including serving with romesco and microgreens, olive and tomato relish, or herb salsa verde, but only one way has been dubbed “genius.” Chef Dan Barber’s cauliflower steaks double down on cauliflower, placing thick-cut white slabs, their edges turned crisp and nutty in the oven, atop a cloud of creamy cauliflower puree. It’s a recipe in Barber’s signature style that wastes no part of the veg—and leaves you wanting for nothing, either.
Stir Into A Curry
Meat doesn’t always take up the center portion of a plate; sometimes, just a little bit lends flavor to a stew or braise. Here, the same principle holds—but with veg as the flavor-lender—in an Indian or Thai-style cauliflower curry. With potatoes and green peas, cauliflower makes a super-fast, weeknight-friendly aloo matar gobi, but we also love the idea of adding chickpeas and coconut milk; or, try a lentil-cauliflower curry, sweetened with a spoonful of mango or apricot jam.
Make A Game Day-Worthy Snack
Call it crazy, or a stroke of brilliance, but we love the idea of spicy Buffalo cauliflower—finger-sized bites alongside a pile of crisp carrots, celery, and a dish of ranch dressing or blue cheese. This messy meal is all about the sauces anyway, right? Serve with a stack of napkins, and plenty of cold beers.
(Image: Food Network)
Double-Baked Cauliflower Cakes
All the ingredients for cauliflower cakes get roasted together on a single baking sheet, then blitzed in a food processor before being pressed into patty-like shapes and dredged in parmesan-laced panko. Place them back on a baking sheet and bake until a crisp golden brown, then serve with a creamy herb sauce. Two words: dinner party.
Roast It Whole
This recipe for whole-roasted cauliflower has become New Orleans’s chef Alon Shaya’s signature, and for good reason. It’s the piece de resistance of cauliflower preparations, as much a sight to behold as any commanding prime rib roast. Serve with whipped goat cheese and a young, lively red wine, and then watch jaws drop.
(Image: Bon Appetit)