Is there any better sight to a dietitian than seeing your family or dinner guests devour a huge plate of cauliflower? I think not. Even though we’re known to push as much color as possible onto the plate, cauliflower deserves a pass on that rule. It is, after all, a member of the marvelous cruciferous or brassica family: rich in vitamins C and K, and also full of folate, antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds. It’s the sulfur-containing phytochemicals, known as glucosinolates, that give cauliflower — and its cousins broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts — its superpowers, not to mention its funky smell and bitter taste.
It’s worth eating cauliflower frequently, because its nutrients have benefits for our cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems, and it’s been associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer. To cook it, give it a quick steam, or sauté or roast it until it turns crispy and caramelizes. If you want to be trendy, make cauliflower rice by breaking it into florets and tossing them, raw, into a food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower breaks apart and resembles rice. You can use it in the same way you would white rice, with way fewer carbs.
If you want to get really creative, though, try this sunny, bright and spicy recipe for pickled cauliflower. I was inspired to create this recipe by an appetizer I ate last summer at a restaurant in Kauai. It’s become such a popular dish with friends and family in my house that I can’t keep enough of it on hand! It’s equally comfortable on a lunch plate next to a sandwich, tossed in a salad or served with some cheeses, crackers and olives on an appetizer platter.
Not only are you getting the goodness of cauliflower, but also the extra anti-inflammatory and antioxidant punch from ginger and turmeric. The best bonus is that you can make a huge batch, and it keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Turmeric & Ginger Pickled Cauliflower
Makes about 8 cups
For pickling liquid
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 4 large peeled, smashed garlic cloves
- 1½ tablespoons pickling or Kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 2-inch pieces of peeled ginger root
- 4 2-inch pieces of peeled turmeric root
- 8 Thai chilies, or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 9 to 10 cups of cauliflower florets (from about 3 small heads of cauliflower)
- Place vinegar, water, garlic, salt and sugar in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
- Stir well, so salt and sugar completely dissolve. Turn off heat and let mixture sit until it cools to room temperature. Remove garlic cloves.
- While pickling liquid is cooling, slice ginger and turmeric into thin, matchstick pieces.
- If using chilies, trim stems off, but leave whole.*
- Place the ginger, turmeric, chilies and cauliflower into a large saucepan and cover with water.
- Bring vegetables to a boil, then immediately remove from heat and drain in a colander.
- Lay vegetables on a clean towel and let cool to room temperature.
- Place cooled vegetables in a large glass bowl or jar and pour pickling liquid over so that everything is submerged. Cover.
- Let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 days for flavor to develop. The flavors will get better the longer it sits.
- Store in a covered container in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.
* If substituting red pepper flakes for the Thai chilis, add them to the pickling liquid along with the garlic. Do not remove the red pepper flakes — they should remain with the pickling liquid.
If you have trouble finding fresh turmeric or Thai chilies, check an Asian market.