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Food and Drink

Tom's Cookbook Library: Cauliflower fans grow by leaps and bounds

The humble cauliflower has undergone multiple transformations that further broaden its versatility. Anyone who has spent time in the produce aisle of their favorite grocery can vouch for that.

“For decades, cauliflower was a bland, raw floret relegated to the most ignored spot on a crudites platter, always the last to go,” says Lindsay Grimes Freedman in her first book, “Cauliflower Power” (Artisan Books).

Freedman is a former attorney turned full-time food blogger who started writing The Toasted Pine Nut in 2014.

She says she regards her new book as a compendium of cauliflower recipes for the home cook. She introduces readers to more than 75 approachable gluten-free recipes featuring “your new favorite superfood.”

There’s something for everyone: vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. Check out breakfast dishes such as smoothies, muffins and cauliflower granola; lunch recipes of kale Caesar salad and a BLT with cauliflower mayo; and dinner offerings including cauliflower-based gnocchi.

An intriguing Chinese takeout item worth trying is Sweet-and-Sour Cauliflower, presented here in a healthier version. Coating the cauliflower pieces with tapioca flour adds a nice breading. Freedman recommends accompanying the dish with sticky rice or roasted spaghetti squash to soak up all the extra sauce.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively about food and the food industry.

SWEET-AND-SOUR CAULIFLOWER

(Serves 2 to 4)

4 cups medium cauliflower florets

2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup tapioca flour

For the sweet-and-sour sauce:

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup agave nectar, honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 scallion, light green part only, chopped for garnish

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the cauliflower florets and the coconut oil in a large plastic bag and shake until the florets are evenly coated with the oil. Add the tapioca flour to the bag. Shake again until the florets are coated with the flour.

3. Transfer the florets to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the florets begin to brown.

4. While the cauliflower is cooking, make the sauce. Place the vinegar, agave nectar, ketchup, tamari, garlic, ginger and onion powder in a small pot over medium-high heat. Whisk for 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens.

5. Place the baked cauliflower in a bowl and toss with the sweet-and-sour sauce. Top with chopped scallions and sesame seeds and serve.

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