Our Best Lessons for Cooking Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, and Brussels Sprouts

updated May 1, 2019
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Right now brassicas like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are the stars of the market, and there is no better time to bring them into your kitchen. Beyond our arsenal of recipes for cooking up these beautiful vegetables, here are our best cooking lessons and tips that will help you seamlessly work more brassicas into your meal plan.

Whether you want to roast a better batch of broccoli or transform Brussels sprouts into salad, here’s what you need to know to eat more of these delicious cruciferous fall vegetables.


Cauliflower has had quite the resurgence as of late, as its versatility and ability to replace many grain dishes has gained popularity. Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of this veggie.

1. Use a food processor or box grater to make cauliflower rice.

You’re definitely not going to mistake this for a grain, but if you’re trying to add more veggies to your diet or avoid grains, cauliflower rice (or couscous) is a step in the right direction. Blitz the florets in the food processor or take them to the box grater for a simple side that can be served hot or cold.

2. For florets, cut the whole head into quarters.

The easiest way to go from a full head of cauliflower to florets is by using a chef’s knife to quarter the head, then cut away the stem. Once the stem is removed, the cauliflower will naturally fall apart into large florets.

3. Don’t toss the leaves.

Cauliflower is good for more than just its florets; the leaves are also totally edible. Roast or grill them for a salad or side dish.

Learn more: Why You Shouldn’t Throw Away Cauliflower Leaves

4. Take advantage of its versatility.

Whether you prefer it raw or cooked, cauliflower is a blank canvas willing to take on an array of shapes and flavors. Mash it into a creamy side, blitz it into “rice,” give it a good roast, or even slice it into steaks and toss it onto the grill.

Cauliflower recipes: 20 Ways to Eat More Cauliflower


These days you can get your fill of cabbage with more than the green variety that dominates the supermarkets. Napa, red, and savory varieties are all readily available and will help fuel your cabbage culinary adventures.

1. Make your own sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut made from scratch is nothing like the jarred stuffed you find at the grocery store. It’s tangy and sour, with a big, crunchy bite. All you need is a big head of cabbage and a Mason jar to get started.

2. Make your own kimchi.

Ready to go beyond sauerkraut? Try kimchi. This Korean-style pungent and spicy fermented cabbage is fermented with a similar process.

3. Take advantage of its versatility.

We already know cabbage is the key to a crowd-pleasing slaw and a tangy batch of sauerkraut, but it is capable of so much more. You can also roast it to mellow the flavor, cook it into a rich and savory curry, or toss it into a 10-minute stir-fry.


Perhaps everyone’s favorite brassica, take a few minutes to brush up on the basics of cooking this veggie. Then, take advantage of all its parts from floret to stem.

1. Steam it, blanch it, roast it, sauté it — your choice.

When it comes to cooking, broccoli is super versatile; and that goes for both the florets and the stems.

2. Don’t forget about the stem.

Don’t stop with just the florets — the stem is totally edible and delicious. Once the outer skin is peeled away, the stem can be cut and eaten raw or cooked into a stir-fry, veggie burger, frittata, or added to soup.

3. Crank up the heat for better roasted broccoli.

The crispy, crackly top of the florets make roasted broccoli totally irresistible. For the best results, there are three rules to roast by: Don’t skimp on the oil, season like you mean it, and take the oven temperature over 400°F.

4. Roast broccoli right from the freezer.

Treat frozen broccoli the same as its fresh counterpart; no need to thaw. Crank up the oven, drizzle with olive oil, and what you’ll get in return is roasted broccoli with irresistibly crispy edges.

Brussels Sprouts

Let’s ditch the mythology that Brussel sprouts are still maligned. Roasting, perhaps the most popular way to prepare this veggie, has proved them to be one of the tastier vegetables we enjoy once the weather cools. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of them.

1. Know the affects of size on flavor.

When it comes to buying Brussels sprouts, it’s important to know how size affects the flavor. Larger sprouts tend to take on the qualities of cabbage, and sometimes have a slightly bitter flavor; it’s best to save these for roasting. Stick with smaller, sweeter-tasting Brussels sprouts for salads or other raw preparations.

2. Start with a sizzling hot pan.

Don’t just preheat the oven before roasting — preheat your sheet pan, too. Once the oiled sprouts hit the hot pan, they’ll start to sizzle and sear right on contact.

Learn more: 3 Tips for Better Roasted Brussels Sprouts

3. Eat them raw if you want.

Like their larger cabbage cousin, this brassica can also be eaten raw. Remove the woody end and shred the sprouts for hearty salads and slaws.