Showing posts with label Bloemkool (Cauliflower). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bloemkool (Cauliflower). Show all posts


I was reading through a stack of older housekeeping magazines looking for vegetable recipes, and I kept coming across cauliflower. We used to eat a lot of cauliflower! Not surprising really, because bloemkool has always been an affordable and available vegetable in the Netherlands. It's mostly grown around West-Friesland, in North Holland, on the islands and near Venlo in Limburg. 

Bloemkool is also a very versatile vegetable: it's easy and quick to prepare, and is fairly neutral in taste. Nowadays, bloemkool is eaten both raw (in salads or with a dip) and cooked, as a substitute for rice and mashed potatoes in low-carb recipes, or in au gratin casseroles, cheesy soups or as the main vegetable in the traditional Dutch AGV (potatoes, vegetables, and meat) menu. 

The other reason why cauliflower kept coming up so much is that it was so easy to use up if you had leftovers. The menu said to serve cauliflower boiled like today's recipe one day, and then make soup or an oven casserole out of the leftovers the next day. Nothing like Dutch frugality/practicality to create new dishes out of what was not used the previous day! I am quite appreciative of that creativity, to tell you the truth. 

Looking up to see how much we consume nowadays I thought it was interesting to read that, according to a Dutch magazine survey from 2021, people under 40 years old do not include cauliflower at all in their top 10 of vegetables, and those over 60 only as their 8th most purchased one. Surprising, because cauliflower is low-cal, has plenty of fiber and anti-oxidants and contains choline and sulforaphane, important for eh...all kinds of things. It's just not a very instagram-able vegetable, I guess? 

The cauliflower I prepared today is served oma-style, the old-fashioned way, which is boiled and with a "papje", a white sauce. Traditionally, this is accompanied by boiled potatoes, and a choice of meat, most often a gehaktbal, a meatball, but it goes well with almost any kind of protein. Colorwise, it's all very beige on your plate, I can't even make it look good in the picture, but it is such a comforting dish! Big, soft lumps of cauliflower, covered in a silky, creamy sauce seasoned with salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of nutmeg on can't go wrong. IF you like cauliflower, that is. This is one of those dishes that you either love or hate - there is little in between! 

I prefer to make the sauce with the cooking liquid, and a splash of cream at the end, to get more of that cauliflower flavor, and any possible nutrients that may have survived the boil, so I keep an eye on the cooking time, and try to not overcook it. I save the rest of the cooking liquid to purée the leftovers with the next day and make a cheesy bloemkoolsoep for lunch, but if you don't care for leftovers or cauliflower soup, feel free to use milk only.

For this recipe I used fresh cauliflower, but frozen works just as well. 

Bloemkool met een papje

2 lbs (1 kg) cauliflower, rinsed and broken into florets
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

For the sauce
4 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
1/3 cup (50 grams) flour*
2 cups (500 ml) milk or cooking liquid
Salt, white pepper, nutmeg

Bring the water to a boil, salt, and add the cauliflower. Boil at medium heat for about fifteen minutes, then check to see if the texture is to your liking: the longer you cook it, the softer it gets. 

When it's the right texture, drain the cauliflower but save the water, and measure out two cups (500 ml). (Don't discard the rest of the cooking water if you are planning on making soup with the leftovers). Put the empty cooking pot back on the stove, and in it, melt the butter (do not brown). With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until the two have come together as a paste, and slowly add the two cups of milk or cooking liquid, while stirring. Keep stirring until the lumps are gone and the sauce has thickened. Bring up to taste with salt and pepper. 

Add the cauliflower back into the pot with the sauce, stir once or twice so that the vegetable is covered with the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side. Right before serving, sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg over the cauliflower. Serve with boiled potatoes.   

*If you would rather not use flour, use cornstarch to make a slurry and bind the sauce.