Santa Maria’s mother was released from the hospital on Sunday, and after enduring a long cab ride home and facing the mountainous climb up our four flights of stairs and across the Hillary Step to our landing, she made it home. I cooked up a fish dinner to welcome her back. It wasn’t the Rose Revived Flounder extravaganza that Santa Maria had planned, but it was pretty tasty all the same—I sautéed the fish, roasted red potatoes, and steamed fresh cauliflower, which I topped with melted sharp cheddar cheese.
When I was growing up, my mother convinced her children to eat broccoli and cauliflower by putting cheddar cheese on them. This side dish was a favorite of my childhood. I still love it, but I don’t often make it, and I don’t know why. Possibly because my roasted cauliflower is so delicious. Or possibly because I have some misguided notion about what it means to grow up. Is it really necessary to leave behind the tastes of childhood? Depends on the childhood, I suppose.
As it turns out, cauliflower is a near-perfect vegetable to serve to an eight-six-year old who just got out of surgery. It is loaded with vitamin C; one cup has 91.5% of an adult’s daily recommend value. And, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, cauliflower is:
an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), cauliflower provides us with two hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K acts as a direct regulator of our inflammatory response, and ALA is the building block for several of the body's most widely-used families of anti-inflammatory messaging molecules. In addition to these two anti-inflammatory components, one of the glucosinolates found in cauliflower-glucobrassicin-can be readily converted into an isothiocyanate molecule called ITC, or indole-3-carbinol. I3C is an anti-inflammatory compound that can actually operate at the genetic level, and by doing so, prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses at a very early stage.
Cauliflower’s health benefits aside, the best part of the dinner came when Santa Maria’s mother asked for seconds of everything. The whole time she was in the hospital, she ate virtually nothing. Not any more.
Steamed Cauliflower with Ceddar Cheese
- 1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into small florets
- slices of cheddar cheese, to taste
Steam the cauliflower until slightly softened.
Toss the florets in a bowl and drape with slices of cheddar cheese.
Cover the dish, and by the time you get everything else to the table, the cheese will be melted.