Steamed Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Toasted Almonds

Steamed Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Toasted Almonds

Cauliflower has always been one of my favorite vegetables, but broccoli is much more likely than cauliflower to end up in my shopping cart when I walk through the produce section of the grocery store. I think it’s a color thing. Broccoli is green and everyone knows that that green is good for you.

Because of this, simple steamed broccoli has always been my go-to side dish when I need to round out a dinner plate with some extra color. And even though I know that cauliflower is a healthy cruciferous vegetable and an excellent source of vitamin C, it just doesn’t look that healthy. There’s no color!

By the way, I probably have some family members out there laughing right now about my “healthy” choice of steamed broccoli as a dinner side dish. The truth is that just about every bite of that broccoli gets dunked into mayonnaise before it ever reaches my mouth.

Yes, I really do that.

When I lived in Sicily, I ate more cauliflower than I do now. I bought it at the outdoor markets all the time because most of the cauliflower in Sicily was a beautiful purple variety. Plastic-wrapped white cauliflower in American grocery stores just doesn’t have the same kind of visual appeal.

That’s why I’m so glad I made it to the Vineyard Farmer’s Market on Saturday after weeks of missing it for one reason or another. Cauliflower season is in full swing and I saw the cutest little baby heads of cauliflower (wrapped in delicate green leaves rather than plastic) and I just couldn’t resist taking them home. Yes, I probably paid a bit more for the baby ones just because of the cute factor, but that’s okay.

Ingredients for Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Almonds

When I got them home, my first thought was to drizzle the small heads of cauliflower with some olive oil mixed with garlic and spices, wrap them individually in foil, and bake them whole. I’ve never done that before, but they seemed to be the perfect size for it.

I was definitely leaning toward the foil-wrapped baked cauliflower until I flipped through Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and noticed a steamed cauliflower variation that included curry butter, lime juice, cilantro, and toasted cashews.  After reading that, I knew I’d have to give it a try, especially since I had also purchased a bunch of cilantro from the farmer’s market.

The curry butter in the recipe is simply a mixture of butter and curry powder and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the McCormick Gourmet Red Curry Powder that has been sitting on my kitchen counter taunting me.

I have used both the McCormick Gourmet Curry Powder and Hot Madras Curry Powders before, but the Red Curry Powder is a new-to-me blend that includes coriander, cumin, chili pepper, red pepper, and cardamom and I’ve been dying to experiment with it. The scent is intoxicating and since some of the red color in the curry powder comes from red pepper, it has a bit of a kick that I really like.

I made a few changes to Deborah Madison’s recipe.  I had one lonely shallot left in my onion basket so I decided to chop that up and saute it in the butter before adding the curry powder. I used lemon juice rather than lime (since that’s what I had in the fridge) and substituted slivered almonds for the cashews (I do live in almond country, after all).

If you have cashews rather than almonds on hand, I’m sure they’d be fantastic. I also added a teaspoon of honey to the curry butter mixture, mainly because I had just replenished my supply of local honey at the farmer’s market and it was sitting on the counter when I first started cooking.  I think it worked.

Prepped Ingredients for Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Almonds

This is a rather simple recipe, but it does requires a bit of preparation: cut the cauliflower into small florets, chop the shallot (or onion), mince the cilantro, juice the lemon, etc.  Cooking is so much easier if you take the time to prep your ingredients and have them all in the same place!

Toasting Almonds in a Skillet

Start by toasting the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat.

Lightly Toasted Almonds

Toss them around until they start turning golden brown and smell toasted.  Once this happens, remove them from the pan immediately or they’ll keep browning.  Set them aside while you prepare the cauliflower.

Steaming Cauliflower

Next, steam the cauliflower until just tender.  If it’s cut into small florets like these, it will only take 5 or 6 minutes once the water starts boiling.

Melting Butter

Heat some butter in a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat.

Softened Shallots

Add the chopped shallot and cook for a few minutes until softened.

Adding Red Curry Powder to Butter

Next add the curry powder.

Cooking the Curry Powder

Cook and stir the curry powder for only about 30 seconds.

The Curry Butter Sauce is Complete

Next, turn the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice, honey, and cilantro.

Toss in the Cauliflower and Almonds

Now just throw in the steamed cauliflower and toasted almonds and toss to combine.  Season to taste with a pinch of salt and you’re ready to eat!

Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Almonds

Enjoy as is or spooned over some steamed rice – it’s especially good with brown rice.

I have been chosen by McCormick to participate in the McCormick Real Gourmets program. I have been paid by them and I received a big box full of McCormick Gourmet spices (which are now scattered throughout my kitchen and living room since my spice cabinet is already bulging). I have been using McCormick Gourmet spices for years, and am thrilled for the opportunity to explore some of their spices and blends that I had never tried before, such as the McCormick Gourmet Red Curry Powder I used in this cauliflower dish.

The following recipe was adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Yields 4 servings

Steamed Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Toasted Almonds
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1 medium head of cauliflower, about 2 pounds

4 tablespoons butter 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced (can use 1/2 a small onion)

2 teaspoons curry powder (I used McCormick Gourmet Collection Red Curry Powder)*

3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

3-4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted**

salt, to taste


Rinse cauliflower under cold water and cut into small florets. Steam cauliflower in a basket over boiling water for 5-8 minutes, or until just tender. Remove the cauliflower to a plate or bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until softened. Add curry powder and stir for another 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice, cilantro, and honey. Add steamed cauliflower and almonds and toss until well combined and heated through. Season to taste with salt.

Serve over steamed white or brown rice or alone, as a side dish.


*The amount of curry powder may be adjusted to suit your own taste. I used McCormick Gourmet Collection Red Curry Powder and the resulting dish was just a bit spicy (the way I like it). If your curry powder is especially spicy, you may want to use less. **Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan or stirring often, until they start to turn golden. Immediately remove almonds to a dish or bowl to stop the toasting.

An easy side dish with lots of flavor. This curried cauliflower with almonds is delicious, simple to make, seasonal, and low carb!
  1. Amy

    This looks really good. I love cauliflower as well and this looks like an extra-tasty way to enjoy it.

    4:42 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  2. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    yum! not a big cauliflower fan but may need to try this with a different veggie 🙂

    5:51 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  3. Claudia

    I agree! I like broccoli more that cauliflower, maybe because therir green color, but you’ve just fond the perfect way to make a very delicious recipe whit cauliflower! I’d like to try it!

    6:27 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  4. Andrea

    I really love it that you share you story, background, and comments on the food before you share the recipe. I looooooove food and cooking, but the commentary makes it so much more alive and interesting.

    This particular dish looks so very good, and somewhat simple to make! The only problem: I don’t have curry.

    8:06 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  5. sally

    This combo of flavors sounds like it would be fantastic with cauliflower. I’m bookmarking this recipe.

    8:29 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  6. Janet in Maine

    Ok. First of all, I had to find out where you live because you said you picked up some cilantro at the farmers market. Here in Maine we are currently having a big snow storm so the thought of getting cilantro at a farmers market really threw me.
    Fresno, now I understand. (I used to live in Sacramento).
    So anyway….the cauliflower looks wonderful. I could make a meal out of that right now over some rice. All those flavors seem they would work well together. I am going to try this the next time we get out to get to the bigger grocery store in town. Today though, it will be oatmeal for breakfast and a seafood chowder for supper. Thanks for the recipe.

    8:30 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  7. Rita Held Cartalano

    Try green cauliflower, if the white is too pale for you. It’s a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. There’s also green broccoli romanesco that has pointy little peaks. Both (they may be the same?) taste very much like white cauliflower. I live in the SF Bay Area and it’s available at farmers markets, so you should be able to find it as well. Though I doubt it is something that’s outside California.?? I have a couple farmers market photos if you would like to see this pretty, and tasty, vegetable.
    Alternately, there’s always mashed cauliflower! With a dab of butter and garlic – yumm !

    8:49 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  8. xina

    I loved your presentation. I will definitely try this as soon as I can get some cauliflower. We are marooned here in LI, NY with snow. Keep up the good work.

    9:04 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  9. Elizabeth

    mmmmm. I love cauliflower with Indian spices. Glad to see the Mccormick spice worked nicely for this recipe!

    9:42 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  10. Susan

    Lovely pictures, looks great! I have everything to make this, except curry paste instead of powder. Can’t wait to try.

    9:51 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  11. Michelle

    Although I love cauliflower raw, I’m not usually a fan of it cooked/steamed. I have to say that this dish could turn me around though. I can’t wait to try it.

    10:09 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  12. Great Food Fun Places

    This sounds delicious. Your variations and suggestions are much appreciated. I think cashews compliment curries (and cauliflower) better than almonds but they also are not usually on hand as are almonds (a staple) and I’ll try anything once!

    10:14 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  13. Deanna

    I have been on a totally cauliflower kick lately. My current favorite is the recipe in the Zuni Cafe cookbook for Spicy Broccoli and Cauliflower pasta. I can’t wait to try this though! I think I have a jar of Curry Powder around here somewhere (I know I have lots of curry paste though!)

    11:26 am  Feb 2nd, 2011
  14. Liz

    I totally have the same reaction to cauliflower and hardly ever make it, but this looks delicious.

    12:29 pm  Feb 2nd, 2011
  15. Kimberley

    I love cauliflower and am always excited to find new ways to incorporate it! This looks delish.

    3:08 pm  Feb 2nd, 2011
  16. Charles G Thompson

    A head of cauliflower was in my CSA delivery yesterday so this is perfect timing – it sounds like a great recipe. By the way, I grew up eating mayonnaise with broccoli so you’re not alone!

    3:48 pm  Feb 2nd, 2011
  17. Margie

    Sounds like a wonderful dish to warm up the chilly bones of winter. I’m guilty of passing the cauliflower for the same reason(s).

    6:50 pm  Feb 2nd, 2011
  18. Erik

    I see you used all of the fresh produce you bought this weekend. I love farmers markets. Looks tasty!

    9:43 pm  Feb 2nd, 2011
  19. Ang

    I honestly can’t wait to try this. I could totally eat this as a meal.

    11:19 pm  Feb 2nd, 2011
  20. Allison

    Oh my gosh this looks amazing. I am definitely going to have to give this a try!

    12:11 pm  Feb 3rd, 2011
  21. The Teacher Cooks

    I love the photo of the purple cauliflower and the pasta looks so delicious!

    1:13 pm  Feb 3rd, 2011
  22. Sarah

    YUM! Cauliflower is my favorite, so this sounds just great to me. I’m going to try it soon!

    9:02 pm  Feb 3rd, 2011
  23. Jodi

    I love cauliflower too! Probably because it, along with broccoli and artichokes, was dipped in mayo all my life too!!

    I have since gotten away from mayo dipping and now am officially obsessed with your roasted garlic broccoli dish. This just might move up into the rotation with that! Yummo! Great job as always Nicole.

    6:22 pm  Feb 5th, 2011
  24. Ginny

    I’m new to your blog, and already loving your posts! I can’t wait to try this cauliflower recipe! Thanks!

    5:35 pm  Feb 6th, 2011
  25. emiglia

    Looks delicious… but I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of the purple ones in the back of that man’s truck. Gorgeous!

    1:31 am  Feb 8th, 2011
  26. Susan

    I had never tried baking cauliflower but was inspired by your post. I used a large one (couldn’t find a smaller version) quartered, added some zucchini and carrots in lengthwise cut strips, wrapped them all up in foil with olive oil, garlic and a sprinkling of herbs, and popped them into the oven. So utterly delicious! I’ll never eat plain steamed cauliflower again. Thanks!

    7:21 pm  Feb 10th, 2011
  27. Claudia

    Yummm!! I need to make this as soon as possible!

    5:39 pm  Mar 4th, 2011
  28. Michael Hines

    Hi there!

    Great recipe! I did like your original idea as well with the foil! That is something that I normally do with great veggies like the cauliflower. Although you were talking about broccoli is always the more “generic” choice, it can be very fragile when you do want to attempt a new cooking style.

    But I love your recipe here! Although I will cut out the honey (only cause of the sugar) the rest of it is a fantastic combination. I want to say thank you for sharing this.

    It inspired me to try something new this week with cauliflower.


    8:24 am  Mar 21st, 2011
  29. Yvonne

    This was absolutely delicious. I used Maharahah style curry that I bought at a spice speciality store last summer. DH loved it! Thanks so much for the recipie.

    12:05 am  Jan 30th, 2012
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