Posts Tagged 'cauliflower'

Creamy Cauliflower and Apple Salad

In my part of the country, it’s still rather chilly. The spring fruits and vegetables are not in the grocery, except those brought from afar, and the farmers’ markets are not yet open.  This salad takes advantage of late winter produce while creating a salad that is crisp and refreshing. It holds well in the refrigerator if you need to make it in advance. The original recipe came from Eating Well. The flavor combination of apples and cauliflower is a bit unexpected, but very good.

Creamy Cauliflower Apple Salad

5 Tablespoons reduced-fat (light) mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, (optional)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped cauliflower florets, (about 1/2 large head)
2 cups chopped heart of romaine
1 tart-sweet red apple, chopped

Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, caraway seeds (if using) and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add cauliflower, romaine and apple; toss to coat. Makes 6 servings at 2 grams of fat/serving.


Mushroom Bisque

While reorganizing all the containers of frozen goodies in my freezer, I came across two boxes labeled “Mushroom Bisque.”  I remember that as being one of my favorite soups, warm and comforting.  It almost always makes me want to curl up for a nap. (Hmmm, maybe it’s the sherry in the soup.) So when I came in from some frigid outdoor chores, I microwaved a bowl, and immediately after eating curled up under the down comforter for a nap.  That being said, it is also an elegant dish to serve for company.  Then I remembered that I had photographed the soup, garnished with mushroom slices, when I first made it for a small dinner party – and before it became a delightful frozen leftover.

I can’t remember where the original recipe for the soup came from.  I know it was called “Mushroom-Cauliflower Soup”, which did not make it sound very appealing.  This was one of the soups I made because of aging mushrooms and cauliflower that I needed to use.  And was I ever surprised!  Don’t let the old name put you off, though.  You don’t even know the cauliflower is in there – it just tastes like a cream soup.

Mushroom Bisque

1 pound mushrooms (mixed or just plain old button mushrooms), tough stems removed
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Cooking Spray
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cans reduced fat beef broth or 6 cups mushroom broth if you want to make it vegetarian (this batch was vegetarian)
1 cup dry sherry
2 cups chopped cauliflower
Mushroom slices for garnish (optional)

Coarsely chop mushroom.  Spray a large pan with cooking spray and melt butter over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and stirring often until mushrooms begin to brown, 12-15 minutes.  Add flour and mix well. Remove from heat and stir in beef (or mushroom) broth, sherry, and 1 cup of water.  Add cauliflower. Return to high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender when pierced – about 5 minutes.

Put 1/3 of the soup in a blender and puree, taking the center lid off and putting a kitchen towel over the hole to prevent splashing.  Repeat until all the soup is pureed.  Return to the pan and stir over medium heat until steaming.  Makes 6 soul-warming servings at 2 grams of fat/serving.


Au Gratin Anything

I love cheesy things – no, not that kind of cheesy.  Cheese is one of the best things that can happen to a vegetable.  So when I see the word au gratin or gratin, count me in. Technically, a gratin is a food that consists of thinly sliced potatoes or another ingredient in a cream sauce, usually topped with breadcrumbs and cheese.  Au gratin actually refers to the technique of cooking in a cheesy sauce.

The problem with most au gratin preparations, much as I love them, is that they are quite high in fat – butter, cheese, cream, and other ingredients that up the fat gram count far beyond my desire to eat cheesy vegetables with some frequency.  This preparation, derived from trial and error (oh yes, lots of error – curdled milk, mushy veggies – ugh), combines a number of techniques that make it possible to have a lovely, creamy dish that is still low in fat.  Even better, you can make it in one pan for serving at an everyday meal, or dress it up for only a few fat grams more by spooning it into a baking dish and topping it with a bit more cheese, and putting it under the broiler for a minute or two. I have made this with potatoes (naturally), cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans, and I think you could try other vegetables as well.

Speaking of cheese, you really need a good sharp cheddar to make this dish.  Most low fat cheddar doesn’t have the flavor to carry this dish without getting lost in the sauce.  I recommend Kerrygold Reduced Fat Irish cheddar.  This cheese has only 4 grams of fat/ounce and a sharp cheddary flavor that makes it great for cooking and a good snack (maybe with a nice apple), too.


Basic Au Gratin Recipe

4 cups of vegetables cut in 1 to 2 inch pieces (or ½ inch slices for potatoes)
1 ½ cups non-fat milk, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (potatoes only need 1 Tablespoon of flour)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)

For the dressed up version, 2 additional ounces of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese. You can also sprinkle it with a little paprika for color.

In a large pan bring vegetable, salt, and 1 ¼ cups milk to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  The time will vary depending on the vegetable.  Be sure to check the vegetable while they are simmering – you don’t want mush.  In a small bowl, whisk remaining ¼ cup milk and flour.  Stir the flour mixture into the vegetables, stirring constantly until it  thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in the 2 ounces of cheese, mustard, and pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.  This makes 4 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.  This is cauliflower au gratin.


Variation: For the dressed up version, spoon the vegetable mixture into an oven proof pan. Sprinkle with an additional 2 ounces of shredded cheese, and paprika if you want Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts (or if you’re lazy like me, stick the pan in the microwave for a minute to melt the cheese.)  This makes 4 deliciously cheesy servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This is potatoes au gratin.


The Manchurian Cauliflower

When I first saw this recipe in Cooking Light, I was a bit skeptical.  Ketchup and cauliflower?  I don’t know…and although it supposedly hails from China, it uses Garam Masala, a decidedly Indian spice.  Still, there was something intriguing about it, and I had a cauliflower to use up in some interesting way.  It turns out to be a really tasty, sweet and salty dish, and it’s easy to make.  It could be part of a dinner with other curries, or a hearty side dish.

Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower

5 ½ cups cauliflower (about 1 large head) trimmed and broken into florets
2 Tablespoons of Garam Masala (see note)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
Cooking spray
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup ketchup
½ teaspoon ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F. Coat an 11 x 7 baking dish with cooking spray.  Combine cauliflower, Garam Masala, and salt with 1 teaspoon of the canola oil in a large bowl and toss well.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add black pepper and sauté 1 minute. Add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in red pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes or until thick (be careful not to burn it.)

Remove cauliflower mixture from the oven. Stir in ketchup mixture.  Bake at 425 for an additional 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender, stirring after 10 minutes.  Makes 9 half cup servings at 1.5 grams of fat per serving (although I personally ate it in one cup servings.


A note on Garam Masala: Garam Masala is a spice mixture used in many Indian dishes. Garam means hot and Masala means spice mixture, so the spices used are those that give some heat to the dish. I use a good commercial mix, such as Spice Islands, or one from an Asian market. In India, many households have their own family Garam Masala recipe, handed down through generations.  You will find varied recipes for Garam Masala in Indian cookbooks and can try your hand at mixing your own family recipe, toasting the spices and grinding them in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, but for most uses, I like the convenience of a prepared blend.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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