Frozen cauliflower doesn’t need to be bland. If you’ve got about 15 minutes, you can make great-tasting frozen cauliflower. Sautéing it is my favorite way to prepare it. It’s quicker than roasting and more flavorful than steaming.
Does Frozen Cauliflower Taste Good?
Frozen cauliflower taste great–if you know how to cook it. When it’s just heated and served, I’ll be honest, it can be bland. But that same cauliflower can be amazing when cooked in a skillet with a few ingredients.
The biggest difference between fresh and frozen cauliflower is texture and size of the florets. When cooked, the cauliflower is tasty but isn’t as crisp as fresh. As for the size, I’ve been bags with really big florets and some with tiny florets.
So why chose it over fresh? Convenience. It’s nice to have bags of pre-chopped vegetables in the freezer. (You know I’m never without a bag of frozen green beans or frozen corn!)
Step One: Selecting the Best Frozen Cauliflower
It seems like there are more frozen cauliflower options now than ever before. Here’s what to look for–and what to avoid–at the store.
What You Want.
- Cauliflower florets. (Sometimes labeled cauliflower.)
What to Avoid.
- Riced Cauliflower. It doesn’t work for this recipe.
- Seasoned cauliflower.
- Cauliflower with sauces or breading.
Step Two: Thaw
For the best tasting frozen cauliflower, defrost it before you cook it in the pan. Taking a few minutes to thaw is worth the time. It removes excess moisture and helps the cauliflower to brown when you cook it.
How to Defrost Cauliflower in a Microwave.
Some brands of frozen cauliflower are packed in microwave-safe bags. Follow the directions on the bag for thawing. If you thaw in the bag, thaw but don’t fully heat the cauliflower. We’ll finish cooking it in the pan.
Please note: cauliflower must be heated to 160°F. Don’t eat until you finish cooking in the pan.
- Place the cauliflower in a microwave-safe container.
- Cover and heat on high for about 4 minutes.
- Remove the cauliflower from the microwave and drain. The cauliflower should be cool but not frozen.
- Please note: cauliflower must be heated to 160°F. Don’t eat until you finish cooking in the pan.
How to Defrost Cauliflower on the Stove.
- Remove cauliflower from the bag. Place it in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water.
- Cover and heat on medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.
- Drain cauliflower. The cauliflower should be cool but not frozen.
Step Three: Sauté with Garlic.
Despite its strong odor, cauliflower is a little bland. Cooking it with garlic, red pepper flakes, and a little onion power makes it tasty.
After you thaw the cauliflower, heat olive oil in a medium frying pan. Cook the minced garlic until it’s lightly golden brown. If you like a spice in your cauliflower, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Add the thawed cauliflower. Stir everything together to coat the florets with the garlic and oil.
Cook for about two minutes on high heat. Then, and this is important, reduce the heat to medium. Let the cauliflower cook, without stirring it, for about five minutes. Then give it a stir. Cook for another five minutes.
The pieces of cauliflower that are in contact with the pan get nice and brown. And those brown bits add great flavor.
Step Four: Season to Taste.
When the cauliflower is brown, sprinkle it with onion powder and season with salt. Stir to combine. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
Frozen Cauliflower (Stovetop Recipe)
Frozen cauliflower doesn't need to be bland. If you've got about 15 minutes, you can make great-tasting frozen cauliflower.
- 12 ounces frozen cauliflower
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch red pepper flakes, optional optional
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
Thaw cauliflower until warm but not hot. Drain and set aside.
How to Thaw in the Microwave: Place cauliflower in a microwave-safe container. Add water. Cover. Microwave until cauliflower is until thawed but not hot, about two minutes.
How to Thaw on the Stovetop: Heat ½-inch of water in a medium pan. Add the cauliflower. Heat until thawed, about three minutes.
Heat olive oil in a cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers but does not smoke. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently until lightly brown. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the thawed and drained cauliflower to the skillet. Stir the cauliflower together with the garlic. Cook without stirring until light brown spots appear on the cauliflower, about two minutes. Sprinkle with onion powder. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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