Cooked by TFW: An Ode to Cauliflower

Do you remember your first crush? Your first love? How they made you feel when they walked into the room? OH MAN! When they would smile or talk to you, and you could feel an entire butterfly atrium in your gut! A good first love makes you see the world differently. You know there was a time before they entered your life, but you genuinely can’t remember living without them.

Let me tell you a quick story: "When I was a young warthog…” I HATED vegetables. I didn’t eat my first salad until I was 20, and even then I was skeptical of the whole deal. Even when I first started training, I really only messed around with broccoli and carrots, maybe zucchini, depending on how it was prepared. I had my first fight October 2013, and I had to cut down from 225 lbs to 185 in six weeks. Steamed veggies and baked chicken were my dinners. Every. Single. Night.

And then I met cauliflower.

It started out simple enough: steamed cauliflower during that first fight camp. But then I learned “mashed cauliflower” and… whoa. I have and always will love white potatoes. In college I was known for my 7 (yeah…) cheese mashed potatoes. And man, when I’m in fight camp, I drive to McDonald’s parking lots, just to smell the fries cooking. But then cauliflower came into my life and everything changed. Ever since then, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve made mashed white potatoes. I Rose-from-Titanic’d potatoes for cauliflower.

Needless to say, cauliflower was my first true food crush when I started eating healthy. It’s super easy to make, and you can get a fresh head of it or buy it frozen and it will always get the job done. Today we’re going to cover three really easy cauliflower recipes. The only ingredients you need are cauliflower, salt and pepper, and a little oil/butter (but we will discuss alternatives to that). Plus, with the first two recipes, you can add other vegetables to the recipe to add variety.

Steamed Cauliflower

1. Place your veggie steamer in a small pot; add enough water to reach the bottom of the steamer.

2. Cut up a handful florets and place in the steamer. Put the lid on the pot and place over high heat for 10-12 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower

1. Preheat the oven to 425º. Place a handful of cauliflower florets in a mixing bowl. You can add other vegetables as well. I love garlic and always add a few tablespoons of diced garlic to my bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil (or if you’re in fight camp, use your cooking spray just to lightly coat) and season with salt and pepper. Toss the florets until they’re evenly coated with oil and seasoning.

2. Transfer the florets to a rimmed baking sheet, spread out evenly. Pop in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

“Mashed”/Puréed Cauliflower (My Favorite)

1. Boil a pot of salted water. Add your cauliflower florets to the water. Boil the florets for about 12-15 minutes, or until soft.

2. Drain the pot and transfer the florets to the food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. And here comes the “Choose Your Own Destiny” portion of this recipe: Depending on your diet, you can add a tablespoon of butter, greek yogurt, heavy cream, or – if you want to really mimic the taste and texture of mashed potatoes – sour cream. Process the florets until smooth. Depending on how big a batch you’re making, you may need to add a little more butter/yogurt/sour cream, but start with a table spoon and go from there. Too much of your fat/dairy will make it a runny mess.

And there you have it! Soon, let’s talk about making cauliflower pizza crusts. Okay? Talk to you kids next week, and happy eating! 

LA Jennings