Cauliflower has long been a favourite of mine and just recently it seems everyone is loving it too. Gaining status as something of a glamorous super food it can now be seen in all its guises on super-smart restaurant menus; the latest talked about blogs; and fashionably positioned in full eye view on supermarket shelves and farmer’s market stalls.
I have made the most of it in my post-op food regime because it is low in fat, carbs and therefore calories and makes some great substitute alternatives for those who have poor toleration of rice, other grains, potatoes and pasta.
I like to make it into a mash instead of the usual potato but use the same way; prepare it as a grain-like accompaniment in place of rice or quinoa; use thinly sliced as a stir-fry ingredient that mixes and matches well with many culinary flavours in countless cuisines; or as a raw kind of ‘couscous or rice’ for my bariatric lunch box meal. It also bakes well with red onions as a side dish for a Sunday roast; makes a fabulous pilaf base for a spice-rubbed piece of lamb, chicken or pork recipe; can be grated and mixed with eggs and herby seasonings for pancakes or rosti (ideal for breakfast/brunch or lunch); and, of course, makes a wonderful silky-smooth soup for year-round eating. What’s not to like?
TO MAKE A RAW CAULIFLOWER ‘COUSCOUS’
Trim of any excess stalks from a cauliflower and simply whizz in batches in a food processor until the size of couscous grains. Add low-fat or fat-free dressing to flavour. Other additions you might like to add are chopped spring onions/scallions, halved, stoned/pitted olives, chopped herbs like mint, parsley, marjoram or basil, halved cherry tomatoes and perhaps a handful of toasted nuts or seeds.
TO MAKE CAULIFLOWER ‘RICE’
Prepare the rice as above then steam for about 7 minutes or cook in the microwave on FULL POWER for about 5-7 minutes, stirring once, until just cooked. Alternatively place a whole trimmed cauliflower in the microwave in a bowl without additional water. Cover and cook on FULL POWER for 5-7 minutes until tender crisp. Drain away any excess cooking juice, place in a food processor and pulse until the texture of rice grains. Serve at once or use as below in a stir-fry mixture.
Cauliflower also makes a fantastic mash either alone or swirled with a herby mixture – I like to swirl blitzed watercress mixed with a little fat-free Greek yogurt into mine. Here below though is a way to produce a light version of bangers and mash (for my overseas visitors this is a classic British favourite usually made with sausages and potato mash). Cauliflower is mixed with beans to make a lighter, healthier and protein-laden mash that’s loaded with fibre then topped with a flavoursome mixture of sausages with onion, thyme and tomatoes. I have used Heck brand Italia sausages for this dish – they are made with chicken and herbs and come in much lighter in fat and carbs than the traditional pork or beef sausages. Vegetarians could replace these with Quorn or other vegetable-based sausages. You could also swap the cauliflower from broccoli in this recipe but reduce the cooking time by 2 minutes.
EARLY SUMMER BANGERS AND CAULIFLOWER-CANNELLINI MASH
low-fat cooking spray or mist
6 low-fat sausages (I used Heck Chicken Italia sausages)
1 red or white onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
125 ml/1/2 cup hot chicken or vegetable stock/bouillon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 g/14 oz cauliflower florets
400 g/14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1. Generously spritz a large frying/saute pan with low-fat cooking oil or mist. Heat, add the sausages and cook over a medium-high heat until deep golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until reduced and pulpy. Add the thyme, stock/bouillon and salt and pepper to taste. Return the sausages to the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the cauliflower and boil gently for 5 minutes until just tender. Add the cannellini beans and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Drain well and return to the pan with the lemon zest, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Mash until smooth.
5. Serve the mash topped with the tomato and sausage mixture.
WLS PORTION: 1/2
CALORIES PER PORTION: 335
Other cauliflower recipes you might like:
Cauliflower and Chicken Curry (from Return to Slender Bariatric Cookery Book details here)
Bariatric Fried ‘Rice’ (from Return to Slender…Second Helpings Bariatric Cookery Book details here)
Main recipe image courtesy of Heck Sausages www.heckfood.co.uk