Quick, what’s white in color, has no fat, and can turn a mac and cheese dish into a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium? Normally, anything white makes the diet-conscious eater think, “Not me. No, thank you.” However, this pale pal is a low-carb-lover’s dream.
Give up yet? (I know, I threw you a curve ball with the mac and cheese dish, didn’t I?) Okay, one more hint: it’s a cruciferous vegetable. For example, broccoli and kale.
Yup—you guessed it!—cauliflower.
One of my favorite food journalists and cookbook authors is Mark Bittman. Why is he a personal favorite? Because he eats the way I eat—lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; an occasional lean meat, and very small amounts of processed food. (Many people were surprised to find page after page of healthy ingredients in my Italian cookbook You Never Grow Old at the Dinner Table; however, my book reflects the true Italian culture of healthy eating—and living!) I first discovered Mark Bittman and his delicious recipes in his column in Runner’s World magazine and this is where the mac and cheese comes into play. Bittman’s version of this all-time American comfort dish achieves its creamy texture by using well-cooked cauliflower. The recipe is great—and opens up a totally new approach in the culinary world of “creamy.”
Therefore, a couple of weeks ago, when my mom told me she’d created and jotted down a new recipe for me—a creamy cauliflower soup—I thought, “As if I don’t already have a million reasons to love my mom.”
Cauliflower and Potato Soup
Ingredients (serves 4 to 6) as a main dish
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small cauliflower head, but into florets and sliced
5 medium russet potatoes, diced into ¾ cubes
6 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame, and sauté celery, carrots, and onion for 10 minutes; then add cauliflower and potatoes and sauté 5 additional minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the water, bring to a boil and add the bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately one hour and 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley; adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
This soup can be served chunky, but my mom achieves a creamy consistency by using a wooden spatula to mash the cauliflower and potatoes against the sides of the pot the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
You can find more of Marinella and her recipes at her blog, PiazzaPress.blogspot.com.
Explore and learn about her cookbook You Never Grow Old at the Dinner Table at SpadaBooks.com.