A common veggie is a canvas for creativity

"Cauliflower Power" by Lindsay Grimes Freedman.

"Cauliflower Power" by Lindsay Grimes Freedman.

I must confess that I’ve arrived late to the cauliflower party. I like cauliflower well enough roasted as a side dish, and will tolerate it as a crudite with enough creamy dip. But I’ve never been moved to try it in the form of pizza crust, rice, gnocchi, or any of the other byproducts that have infiltrated grocery shelves since becoming the “it” vegetable of the low-carb crowd.

Lindsay Grimes Freedman's new book, "Cauliflower Power:75 Feel-Good, Gluten-Free Recipes Made with the World's Most Versatile Vegetable" (Artisan, $19.95), has me reconsidering my ambivalence.

The former attorney came to embrace the nutrient-packed brassica’s chameleon-like qualities after her husband was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Seeking low-glycemic recipes the whole family would like, she perfected a homemade version of cauliflower-crusted pizza. Countless cauliflower-based creations followed, many featured on her blog, The Toasted Pine Nut. Now she’s packaged the best of those in a lovely and practical volume that makes it easy to see why one fellow blogger has dubbed her “a true cauliflower magician.”

Recipes are divided into six chapters: Breakfast, Lunch, Happy Hour, Dinner, Sides, and Desserts. She prefaces them with a tutorial on five basic preparations used throughout the book: steamed or roasted whole, sliced into steaks, broken into florets, shredded into rice, ground into meal.

I headed first to Cauliflower Falafel, having nearly all the ingredients on hand. I sauteed the florets until tender and caramelized, then whirled them in the food processor with almond and arrowroot flours, herbs, spices, and an egg. They fried up quickly into crispy, airy fritters that I tucked into pita pockets with salad fixings.

It was so tasty, I proceeded to shred, oven-dry, and process an entire head of florets into seasoned “bread crumbs” to coat boneless chicken breasts for Mozzarella Chicken that my husband deemed “restaurant-worthy.”

I’m seeing a grilled cauliflower “steak” dinner in my future soon, and I’m even ready to try my hand at cauliflower-crusted pizza. As I adapt my kitchen ways to the realities of life during a pandemic, I’m vowing never to underestimate this powerhouse vegetable again.

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