Maggy Button: Forget about kale, buy the cauliflower


Lindsey Hollenbaugh, the Berkshire Eagle features editor, ran a story on the food page last Wednesday about dipping a head of cauliflower into batter and then grilling it. The story also mentioned "cauliflower steaks," thick slices of cauliflower, seasoned and then grilled.

The next day, I ran across recipes for cauliflower bread sticks and cauliflower pizza crust, which I filed on my computer, where they joined a recipe for a loaded baked cauliflower casserole.

My question: Is cauliflower the new kale?

Working part-time in a supermarket, I see what people are buying and how many are buying it. When I started there, it was all about avocados and guacamole. Half of the customers I encountered during a shift had at least one avocado in their order.

These days it's all about kale. People tell me they are steaming it, sautéing it, eating it raw in salads and baking it in the oven, where it turns into chips. It's also become a staple in soups, stews, smoothies and, for one woman, a face mask.

The same thing happened in the baking world -- a few years ago, it was all about whoopie pies. I garnered recipes for every imaginable flavor -- savory and sweet -- as well as a hearty supply of filling recipes for them. I had only worked my way through a tenth of them when, lo and behold, cupcakes became the go-to sweet treat. And not just your ordinary kids-school-party variety, but flavors and flavor combinations too incredible to believe. The lowly cupcake became an overnight sensation -- bakeries featuring cupcakes only sprang up and TV shows featured cupcake-baking competitions.

I had no sooner dusted off my cupcake/muffins tins than the cupcake fad turned into cake pops -- which was probably a good thing for many of the cupcake bakers who now had a way to use up any leftover cupcakes. (Cake pops, to be quite simple, are merely crumbled cake mixed with frosting, rolled into balls and usually dipped into melted chocolate.) Now, it looks like we're back to cupcakes -- or maybe cake pops were only a passing fancy after all.

The Wonder Bread of my youth has evolved over the years into whole-wheat bread, then flat, pita and 12-grain breads (Really? Can anyone even name 12 grains without looking at the label?), which evolved into ciabatta bread and now, pretzel rolls.

Where once hosting a get-together meant serving a variety of chips and dips -- and years later, salsa and pico de gallo with tortilla chips -- it's now all about Buffalo chicken wings and hummus and pita chips. And speaking of hot sauces, forget the Texas Pete's and Frank's hot sauces of days of yore -- they've been replaced by Sriracha, a hot sauce originally from Thailand.

These days, bacon has become the meat du jour (what's not to like about bacon?) and it pops up in everything from salads to casseroles to being chocolate-coated.

I can remember when deep-fried food consisted mainly of French fries, chicken and doughnuts. Much to cardiologists' dismay -- or joy, however you look at it -- deep-fried everything has become a hot food trend: bubblegum, butter, chicken-fried bacon, jelly beans, beer (which is used as a ravioli filling), candy bars, pickles, macaroni and cheese, Twinkies, spaghetti and meatballs, ice cream and almost every vegetable.

Before I sit down to lunch -- a grilled cheese sandwich made with plain old-fashioned white bread and American cheese and a handful of potato chips (not kale, beet or sweet potato), I'll predict the next food trend: spaghetti squash.

I came across this recipe for "loaded" cauliflower on Facebook. What's not to like about all the ingredients found in a loaded baked potato mixed with the no-carb cauliflower?

Loaded Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces (approx. 6 cups)

6 to 8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

6 tablespoons chopped chives

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2 cups Colby Jack or cheddar cheese

8 ounce container sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large pot, boil water and cook cauliflower for 8 to 10 minutes, drain and let cool.

In a large bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise,1/2 of crumbled bacon, 3 tablespoons chives, 1 cup cheese, mushrooms and cauliflower and mix well. Place in a baking dish and cover with remaining 1 cup of cheese and rest of bacon crumbles. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with remaining 3 tablespoons of chives and serve.

Another recipe I tried was for fried cauliflower patties -- kind of like latkes!

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties

1 head cauliflower

2 large eggs

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 c panko

1 4 cup diced green onions

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more of less to taste)


Olive oil

Cut cauliflower into florets and cook in boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Mash the cauliflower while still warm. Stir cheese, eggs, panko, green onions cayenne and salt to taste.

Coat the bottom of a griddle or skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Form the cauliflower mixture into patties about 3 inches across. Cook until golden brown and set, about three minutes per side. Keep each batch warm in the oven while you cook the rest.


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