Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, cooked in soups or dishes or even used as a thickening agent in place of flour or potatoes. Mashed cauliflower is now being served in place of mashed potatoes. Want to add it to your recipe repertory? Enjoy these 2 simple recipes that even kids will love.

Cauliflower Soup With Dipping Bites

 Ingredients for Soup:

  • Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 small heads cauliflower, or 1 large, cut into small bunches of florets
  • 3 stalks of celery and leafy tops from the heart of stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • Hot sauce, optional
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves or chives, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

 Ingredients For the Dippers:

  • 3 sandwich size English muffins
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses
  • Paprika

Directions for Soup:

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in cauliflower florets. Add salt and pepper to season to your taste. Add celery, onion and thyme and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Push the vegetables to one side of the pot.
  3. Melt one more tablespoon of butter on empty side of pot and add flour to the butter. Cook for 1 minute, stirring the flour in the butter.
  4. Mix in chicken broth and half-and-half. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Puree soup using an immersion blender, food processor or blender and return to pot. I like to leave it a little chunky.
  5. Check seasoning and add a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

Garnish soup with hot pepper sauce, chopped parsley or chives and serve with grated cheese to sprinkle on top.

Directions for Dippers:

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Toast English muffin halves and then place on a cookie sheet.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the garlic over low heat.
  4. Brush toasted muffins with garlic butter and top with lots of grated cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.
  5. Sprinkle a little paprika over toasts, then place under broiler until cheeses are melted and browned.
  6. Serve cheesy toasts with soup for dipping.

Cauliflower and Green Chili Gratin

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10x10x2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Set aside.
  3. Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined with the butter.
  5. Let the flour mixture cook for about 60 seconds, do not allow it to get dark. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Let the sauce cook for at least 4 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the Monterey Jack, cheddar and parmesan cheeses until slightly smooth, season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl.  Add the cheese sauce and poblano and stir until combined.
  8. Transfer mixture to the baking pan and dot the top with the goat cheese.
  9. Bake until the cauliflower is tender and the top is lightly golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Enjoy the “new” vegetable of 2014.

photo credit: travelingmcmahans via photopin cc