Cauliflower is a highly nutritious and tender vegetable when properly prepared. There are many different ways to cook it, but steaming is one of the preferred methods as it tends to preserve flavor, aesthetics and nutrition more. You can steam cauliflower on the stove or in the microwave. Here's how to do it both ways.
Serves about 4 servings
- 1 bunch of fresh cauliflower, about 450 to 675g.
- salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Butter to taste
Method 1 of 3: Part One: Preparing Cauliflower
Step 1. Choose a fresh cauliflower
A fresh cauliflower will be completely white and wrapped in crispy bright green leaves.
- You should pay particular attention to the base of the cauliflower. No matter how dirty or dark the top is, the base should be as white as possible. The base color is the best indication of the freshness of the green.
- The upper branches along the outer part of the branch should be reasonably compact. If they are loose, or if there are wide spaces between them, this could be an indication that the cauliflower has already started to spoil.
Step 2. Cut the sheets
Use a sharp knife to cut the green leaves around the bundle. Cut the leaves as close to the base of the stalk as possible.
- Note that the leaves can also be cooked, as long as they are fresh. They are especially useful for broth, but they can be cooked and used in stews, roasts or raw foods in salads.
Step 3. Cut the central stalk
To remove the branches more easily, cut the large stalk just before the point where it splits into individual branches.
- The stalk can also be saved and used for vegetable stock.
- Technically, this step is optional. You can remove individual cauliflower branches without removing excess stalk, but doing so will be much more difficult.
Step 4. Cut individual branches from the central stalk
Turn the mallet upside down so that the cut end of the stalk is on top. Use your sharp knife to remove each individual branch.
- Slice the branches at the point where the branch stalk meets the central stalk. Cut the branches from the central stalk at a 45-degree angle.
- Take time to remove the discolored parts of the cauliflower. Brown or other oddly colored cauliflower will not taste as good and will not have many of the nutrients of fresh cauliflower.
- Note that mini cauliflowers can be cooked whole. You don't need to cut them into individual branches.
Step 5. Cut more large branches
You can use the branches as they are, but if they're still a little big, they might take longer to cook. Use your knife to cut the branches into smaller pieces. They should be the same size as the frozen branches you buy at the market.
Cooking cauliflower for less time means preserving more of its nutrients
Step 6. Wash the cauliflower
Put the branches in a colander and wash them under cold running water. Then dry them with a paper towel.
Dirt and debris can get between the branches and the stalk. If you see any dirt, wash it off gently with your fingers. They should be enough, a vegetable brush should not be needed
Method 2 of 3: Part Two: Steamed Cauliflower on the Stove
Step 1. Boil a large pot of water
Fill it with about 5cm of water and bring it to a boil on the stove over high heat.
Step 2. Place a steaming basket in the pan
Make sure the basket does not touch the boiling water.
If you don't have a steaming basket, you can use a metal colander. Just make sure it fits over the pan without touching the water
Step 3. Place the cauliflower sprigs in the baking basket
Carefully pour the branches into the baking basket, spreading them evenly..
- The branches should be arranged upright, with the flower side up and the stalk down.
- If possible, arrange the branches into a single layer. If that's not possible, you should at least try to make sure the branches are distributed as evenly as possible.
Step 4. Cook them for 5 to 13 minutes
Cover the pan and let the steam cook the cauliflower. When ready, the branches should be soft enough to pass the fork but not shriveled.
- The pot and cooking basket must be covered Placing the lid on the pot traps the steam, and it is needed to cook the cauliflower sprigs in this method.
- For regular sized branches, open the pan after the first five minutes. If they are still hard, cover the pan again and continue cooking. It usually takes about 7 to 10 minutes to cook the cauliflower.
- Large branches can take up to 13 minutes.
- If you decide to steam the entire pack at once, it may take 20 minutes or more.
Step 5. Serve hot
Remove the cooked cauliflower from the baking basket and place it in a serving bowl. Season with salt, pepper and butter as desired.
There are other ways to serve steamed cauliflower. You can pour in soy sauce, add grated Parmesan cheese, or season the cooked branches with spices and herbs such as paprika, pepper with lemon, or parsley. How you go about consuming this healthy delight is up to you, so get creative
Method 3 of 3: Part Three: Microwave Steamed Cauliflower
Step 1. Place the cauliflower in a microwave-safe container
Spread the branches as evenly as possible.
If possible, arrange the branches into a single layer. If this is not possible, make sure the branches are distributed in the container as evenly as possible
Step 2. Add some water
For a standard pack, add about 30 to 45 ml of water.
It should only be about 2.5 cm at the bottom of the container. The idea is to have enough water to create steam, but not so much that you end up boiling the cauliflower sprigs
Step 3. Cover the container
If it has its own microwave lid, cover it with it. If not, cover it with a layer of microwave-safe film.
- If your container doesn't have a lid and you don't have wrapping paper (or don't want to microwave it), you can cover it with a microwave-safe ceramic or stone pot. Make sure this pot completely covers the opening of the container.
- Covering the container is essential as it allows the steam to be trapped. The steam created by the heated water is what will cook the cauliflower branches.
Step 4. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes
Turn on the microwave at high power. When ready, the branches should be soft enough to pass the fork but not shriveled.
- Take a look at the cauliflower sprigs after the first two and a half minutes. Cover again and continue cooking for another minute and a half if necessary.
- Take care when removing the cover. Open the lid away from your face so the steam does not burn your skin as it comes out.
Step 5. Serve hot
Remove the cooked cauliflower from the microwaveable container to the serving bowl. Season the branches with salt, pepper and melted butter as desired.