Not so long ago, cauliflower was an all-but-forgotten vegetable, its only dinner-plate appearance coming as part of a bland, mushy medley of overcooked green beans and carrots. But today the humble white plant is being recognized as a dynamic, do-it-all veg, one you can dress up with exotic herbs and spices or serve as simply as you'd like. Roasted, cauliflower has a slightly sweet, nutty taste that blends seamlessly with the flavors of so many cuisines, from Indian to Italian to Vietnamese. Raw, it's a perfect base for dips and brings serious crunch to fresh salads. It's even meaty enough to stand on its own as a main dish (see "steak" recipe). Bonus: Cauliflower is superhigh in vitamins C, B, and K, meaning it's one of the few white foods that are actually good for you. These three preparations show off cauliflower's impressive range. Try them all, and play with the ingredients to find combinations you love. Then make some room in the vegetable drawer next to all that kale.
Tangy Tarragon Cauliflower
• 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
• 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 4 bay leaves
• 5 juniper berries (optional)
• 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 4 sprigs tarragon
• 1 cup fennel, sliced (optional)
Cut or break florets into bite-size pieces. Blanch (boil for 5 minutes, then plunge into an ice bath). Drain. Make brine by boiling 2 cups water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns, and salt for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in the tarragon. Place cauliflower (and fennel, if using) in a mason jar or a large bowl with a lid. Pour brine over cauliflower (it should be submerged; add water if necessary) and chill at least 2 hours.
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