I wrote a post a little while back where I revisited an old vegetable that didn’t fair well in my childhood past, cauliflower.
Cauliflower still doesn’t have a permanent place on my grocery list, not like kale does now. Which got me to thinking… when I was 16 years old and working at our local pizzeria in charge of the salad bar upkeep, I had no idea that kale was edible. Kale was the hard green stuff around the giant bowl of iceburg lettuce, shredded carrots and red cabbage. It was ‘garnish’, it was just there to make the food look good. It wasn’t until well into my late twenties that my MIL made kale as a side dish for dinner. She had lightly steamed/boiled it. That was my first introduction into actually eating kale. It was interesting, but it didn’t make it to my own grocery list until very recently. In fact, I think my cravings for kale started around the time that I was experimenting with green smoothies and found out that kale is full of all kinds of good nutrients. I found out that parsley, another ‘garnish’ in my mind, was full of nutrients as well [source].
[*Side Note: My favorite way to eat kale is raw, while I like the occasional kale chip, my cravings have been for kale salad. I take freshly rinsed kale, lightly massage it with Udo’s Omega Blend Oil, then add red peppers and pumpkin seeds, then I dress it with Annie’s Goddess Dressing. Occasionally, I’ll add carrots, hemp seeds, and chia seeds as well. Perhaps an additional lettuce like romaine will find itself in the salad too.]
Where am I going with all this? Well, even though I am a vegan now, and I’ve been trying new fruits and vegetables and revisiting old vegetables, I am still learning. I’m learning that even though I was raised to believe that corn and potatoes are considered a ‘starch’ and therefore not a vegetable worth eating (even though they are among my favorites, both then and now), and that recently the hype over eating foods with dark colors are the only way to go… I’m learning that, that may not be the whole truth.
For instance, cauliflower, a white, devoid of color, vegetable is actually an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and dietary fiber. It is also a very good source for vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, and vitamin B5. It can also boast being a good source of potassium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin), magnesium and vitamin B3 (niacin) [source]. I now also know that cauliflower is part of the cabbage family as is broccoli, and brussels sprouts, thanks to Alton Brown (Good Eats, “Head Games”).
And as it turns out, corn happens to be a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamin), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamin B5 [source], while potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber [source].
Amusingly, the very characteristics that made me dislike cauliflower as a kid, boiled to mush and lack of flavor, are the exact properties that make cauliflower perfect for the following recipe… You do boil the crap out of the cauliflower, but I reused the water later in the recipe so any nutrients that were in the water was promptly returned to the dish.
Enough with the nutrition lesson, let’s get to the food, shall we?
So, I had that head of cauliflower from my produce delivery and since I rarely buy cauliflower I don’t have an arsenal of recipes in my head as to what to make with it. I did remember in the recesses of my mind a recipe that I liked that used the cauliflower as the creamy part of the stew/pot pie… I found this gem of a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Zen Monastery Cookbook. Unfortunately, it appears that this book is out of print… fortunately for you, though, I will post this recipe with my minor modifications…
Tofu Pot Pie with Dumplings
slightly adapted from The Zen Monastery Cookbook
Rating: Very Good
- 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and chopped
(* I roasted the rest of the squash)
- 1/2 of a large head of cauliflower, cut into big chunks (* I used the whole head)
1/2 lb. tofu, cut into cubes(* I omitted the tofu)
- 3/4 cup carrots, diced (* I used 2 carrots)
- 3/4 cup celery, diced (* I used 1 stalk celery and also used the leafy parts)
- 1/4 cup frozen peas (* I used closer to 1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup red potatoes, diced (* I used up my blue potatoes)
- 1 1/2 cup red onions, chopped (* I used 1 yellow onion)
- 1 handful parsley, chopped (* my addition)
- 1 Tbsp. ume plum vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp. garlic granules (* I minced 2-3 garlic cloves)
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp. rosemary
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper (* I used fresh ground black pepper)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. tamari / soy sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp. white miso
- 1 Tbsp. tahini
- 2 1/2 and 1 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cube veggie bouillon (* I used 1/2-1 tsp. vegetable bouillon base)
- 1 batch biscuit dough (see other pg in book) (* I used 1/2 batch… I will post that recipe below)
- Cook cauliflower until mushy.
- In a big soup pot saute onions, garlic, and spices in a stock or water. Add the squash, carrots, potatoes and two and half cups water. This is the beginning of the stew.
- Boil the tofu cubes separately in one tablespoon of tamari and 1 3/4 cups water for one to two minutes.
- In a food processor, blend cauliflower, tahini, miso and some of the water from cooking the tofu (* I did not make the tofu, so I added a splash of tamari and the cauliflower water to the cauliflower mix).
- Add this mixture to the vegetable stew along with the cooked tofu cubes. When almost done, add celery, peas, parsley, and plum vinegar. Taste for flavor.
- Mix up the biscuit dough and roll it out about one-half inch thick. Cut the dough into one-inch squares and drop the squares on top of the stew. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 20 minutes, turning the dumplings over after 10 minutes. Any leftover dough can be made into biscuits to serve on the side.
** The dumplings are optional; it’s easier, but not as much fun, just to make biscuits and serve them on the side. With the dumplings, this is a stew; without them it’s more of a soup. **
Biscuits (* I used 1/2 batch)
Makes: 7-8 biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (* oops… I used regular wheat flour… )
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/3 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1 cup buttermilk or soymilk (* you can make ‘buttermilk’ with 1 cup soy milk and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Sift dry ingredients together.
- In a separate bowl, combine the oil and buttermilk and mix.
- Quickly and thoroughly blend the buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Keep the stirring to a minimum.
- On a floured board, roll the dough into a 3/4″ thick circle and cut into biscuits with a biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned on top.
P.S. I saw two squirrels this morning on my walk and one yesterday on my puppy stroll… none of them stuck around to get their picture taken, though. 😛
Update: Here’s a few pictures of the waterfowl from my morning walk… 🙂