Chances are, if you read blogs, magazines, or cookbooks, you’ve come across cauliflower. It’s the homely, nutritionally-packed darling of the food world, adopted by vegans, raw foodies, gluten-free folks, nutritionists, and paleo guys, among others. Cauliflower cultists will have you believe that their pet veg can transform our favorite junk food into MIRACLES.
Mash ’em instead of potatoes. Stir into mac and cheese to replace the mac. Puree with garlic and oil to replace alfredo sauce. Pulse in a food processor and use the resulting grains as rice. Put buffalo sauce on crispy flowerets instead of wings. Grill “steaks” with a spice rub. These are all things I’ve seen advertised as “just as good” as their unhealthful forebears.
No! No more lies! Is this a mass conspiracy or a mass affliction of underdeveloped palates? You will never make me believe that cauliflower – low in fat and carbs, high in fiber and Vitamin C – is in fact a glutinous, fatty delight, especially if your only aids are similarly low-fat and low-carb ingredients.
But here’s the thing! Cauliflower is the bomb! It’s versatile, nutrient-dense, mild, and some variants of it are fractal! So stop calling it other stuff and let’s just eat cauliflower. Mashed cauliflower. Grilled cauliflower. Hey, there’s already a name for cauliflower mac and cheese. It’s “cauliflower gratin.” And I promise, your friends will be much more delighted by your delicious cauliflower pasta than they will when they’re cursing the stealth-health trickery of your linguini obviously-not-alfredo.
Which brings me to one of this week’s lunch dishes. I’d seen it popping up around the food blogs, touted as “pizza crust” and “breadsticks.” It’s actually a head of cauliflower, pulsed finely and mixed with 2 egg whites, half a cup of reduced fat cheese, and lots of herbs, baked in a single layer until crisp.
Gussied up with grilled zucchini, and a chickpea and roasted red pepper salad with capers, basil, and parsley.
This is not frickin’ pizza. It does not taste like a pillowy, buttery stick of dough redolent with garlic and fat. But it is quite nutritious, and it’s some darned tasty cauliflower bake. And isn’t that good enough?