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Seasonal Produce: Cauliflower

A member of the cabbage family, cauliflower has a firm, tightly compacted head of white florets on thick stems. While the entire plant is edible, the florets are most often used. The outer green leaves protect the growing cauliflower from bright sunlight, ensuring its white color. Most of the U.S. crop is grown in California with peak season being late fall to spring.

Cauliflower’s cabbage-like flavor becomes milder when cooked and blends well with cheese and other vegetables, such as carrots and green beans. The whole head or florets can be steamed, boiled, baked or stir-fried. The florets can also be blanched and served with dips. This versatile vegetable can star as a side dish or play a supporting role in salads, pasta dishes and stir-fries.

Purchasing

  • Select firm heavy heads with tightly compacted ivory-colored florets. The leaves should look green and fresh.
  • Avoid any heads with brown-spotted florets and yellowish leaves.
  • Refrigerate unwashed heads of cauliflower in plastic bags for up to 1 week and washed florets for 3 to 5 days.
  • Cooked cauliflower does not keep well and should be refrigerated for only 1 day.

Preparing

  • Remove and discard the leaves and stem. Separate the head into florets and rinse under cold water.
  • If cooking the head whole, cut out and discard the core at the base with a paring knife before rinsing and cooking.
  • For best results, cook cauliflower just until tender. Overcooking robs this vegetable of its fresh taste and firm texture, turning it mushy with a strong flavor and odor.
  • Blanching or partially cooking cauliflower florets for salads or dippers makes them slightly tender and more flavorful. Cook the florets in boiling water for 2 to 3 min. then immediately plunge them into ice water until cool. Drain and pat dry.

Nutrition

  • Excellent source of vitamin C.
  • Fat free and low in sodium.

Serving

  • Sneak cauliflower into your kids’ meals by stirring some cooked, mashed florets into hot mashed potatoes before serving.
  • Top cooked florets with a sprinkle of Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese or Kraft Shredded Cheddar Cheese for great color and flavor.
  • Toss cauliflower florets into your favorite stir-fry recipes and serve over hot cooked rice.
  • Substitute cauliflower for broccoli florets in salad, pasta and other recipes.
  • Add color and crunch to buttered cooked cauliflower by topping with chopped toasted Planters Walnuts or Almonds.
  • Serve blanched florets with your favorite Kraft Dressing as a dip.
Cauliflower
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