The Easiest Way To Steam Cauliflower While Adding Flavor

Of all the brassicas, cauliflower has the mildest flavor, a characteristic that the health industry has capitalized on by transforming it into low-carb rice and gluten-free pizza crusts. That said, their bulbous florets and firm yet tender stalks are delicious on their own. Roasting and grilling are popular methods to bring out cauliflower's nuttiness while imparting crispy char. However, you can save yourself the time of preheating the grill or oven and cut cooking times by steaming and seasoning cauliflower in the same pot.

While various avenues for steaming cauliflower exist, from popping your florets into the microwave to using a steamer basket, the pot method is the easiest. Not all kitchens contain microwaves, and not all home chefs have a steam basket, but a stove and pot tend to be the most basic kitchen fixtures. Plus, this method generates the least amount of dirty dishes. And, if you don't have a deep pot, you can also use a saucepan.

To steam cauliflower in a pot or saucepan, you'll add about a quarter-inch to an inch of water — depending on the size of your cookware — to the pot; the water should cover the entire bottom of the pan without exceeding the height of the florets. Then, cover the pot or saucepan with its top and set it over the burner at high heat until the water boils. Add chopped florets and stalks, then cover the pot and steam for between five and eight minutes.

Seasoning steamed cauliflower

Using a pot or saucepan is truly a dump-it method because you use the pot to steam the florets, the top to drain the water, and finally, the pot as a seasoning bowl. While you can add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to hot steamy cauliflower, there are plenty of other ways to impart more depth of flavor and enhance cauliflower's natural flavor.

However you decide to season your cauliflower, you can add all seasoning ingredients directly to the saucepan or pot and stir to coat. Everything from spices to herbs, to cheese or breadcrumbs will all make perfect flavoring agents, but the best vehicle to impart their flavors is fat. You can use oil, butter, or a combination of the two to provide an adhesive coating for your desired seasonings. For example, a mixture of curry powder, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of melted butter would give your cauliflower an Indian twist.

To enhance cauliflower's underlying nuttiness while adding some crunch, try adding olive oil, toasted bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Lemon zest and juice with freshly cracked pepper and a drizzle of butter would also brighten steamed cauliflower with equal measures of tart and spicy.

A few quick tips to ensure that you get the perfect results include cutting the florets and stalks into similar-sized pieces for even cooking. Cooking times also vary, with an al dente texture after three minutes and the softest bite after eight minutes.