Home / December In-season Produce: Cauliflower

December In-season Produce: Cauliflower

The Michigan winter isn’t known for its crop yield but it an excellent opportunity to dig into freezer items from your home or store. Foods intended for freezing are picked at peak ripeness when their nutrient content is at its highest, then blanched and frozen. In general, frozen food retains nutrients well up to one year, but some nutrients are lost the blanching process. As with all food, some nutrients will also be lost during cooking.

Colors are usually associated with a variety of nutrients, but cauliflower is an exception to the rule. Frozen cauliflower offers a plethora of health benefits including fiber, antioxidants and vitamins C and K. A versatile crop, it can double as a healthier alternative to starchy items in classic dishes such as mashed potatoes, pizza crust and rice. Cauliflower substitutions can be especially beneficial for those with diabetes counting carbohydrates. Larger servings of mashed cauliflower can be enjoyed, offering fullness due to its fiber content at a fraction of the carbohydrates and calories.  

Though many cauliflower dupe recipes call for fresh produce, these taste-tested recipes mimic the real deal and will let you dig into freezer stores.

Creamy and Delicious Garlic-thyme Cauliflower Mash from Frozen

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallow, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 12 oz bag frozen cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish – chives, chopped

Instructions

  1. Boil a pot of water enough to cover cauliflower. Boil until soft throughout, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil to medium-low. Once oil is hot, add garlic, thyme and shallots. Cook until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Turn off plate with boiling water. Drain the water from the pot of cauliflower.
  4. If using an immersion blender, add boiled cauliflower back to the pot, then pour over the oil mixture of shallot, garlic and thyme. Add parmesan, salt and pepper. Blend with immersion blender.
  5. If using a blender or food processor, add cauliflower, oil mixture of shallot garlic and thyme, parmesan, salt and pepper. Blend.
  6. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and thyme if desired.

Garlicky Carrot and Pea Riced Cauliflower from Frozen

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag frozen riced cauliflower
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup shredded carrots, finely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over high heat. Once hot, add frozen cauliflower and stir frequently to allow excess moisture to leave, about 7 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onions, peas and carrots until garlic is golden and fragrant and carrots are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn skillet with cauliflower down to medium heat. Add oil mixture of garlic, onions, peas and carrots and stir until well combined. Serve with a main dish or stir in a protein for a stir fry.

Tangy Orange-glazed Cauliflower “Wings” from Frozen

For the Cauliflower:

Ingredients

  • 2 12-oz bags cauliflower
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish – 2 tsp sesame seeds and 2 green onion spears, chopped

For the Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp orange juice (from ~ ½ orange)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Defrost frozen cauliflower. Place cauliflower on a towel and dust with 1 tsp of salt to reduce moisture.
  3. In a bowl, combine all cauliflower ingredients except for the corn starch. Place florets on a lined baking sheet, leaving room in between. Gently dust the florets with cornstarch. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping each floret halfway.
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl until mixture is smooth. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add mixture. Stir until mixture thickens up. Add cauliflower florets to the pan and toss until all florets are covered in sauce.
  5. Place florets in a serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

Arugula and Portobello Cauliflower Pizza from Frozen – Makes 1 Pizza

Ingredients

For the pizza:

  • 12 oz bag riced cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Spray oil

For the toppings:

  • ¼ cup pizza or pasta sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh arugula
  • 1 portabella mushroom, sliced or 4 sliced baby portobella mushrooms
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. On a lined baking sheet, place riced cauliflower in an even layer. Roast for 10 minutes.
  3. Optional step for a smoother crust – if using an immersion blender, add cauliflower to a bowl, then blend.
  4. Optional step for a smoother crust – if using a food processor, add cauliflower then blend.
  5. Once cauliflower has cooled enough to handle, add to a cheese cloth or tea towel. Squeeze out excess moisture by squeezing a few times. Aim to remove about ¼ cup of fluid.
  6. In a bowl, whisk the egg with spices, salt and pepper then add cauliflower and mozzarella. Mix until well combined. Spray a lined baking sheet with oil. Shape “dough” into a pizza shape that’s about ½ inch thick. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, then bake for another 5 minutes. Turn down oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  7. Apply toppings except for arugula and bake until cheese is melted, about 7-10 minutes. Add fresh arugula leaves and enjoy!

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. See more at AHealthierMichigan.org.