The leaves of a cauliflower are its protection. They grow curled around the head and keep it shaded. The more white a cauliflower, the longer the leaves have been left on to protect it while it grows. This also helps to keep the flavour in. When you see them in the supermarket, invariably the leaves have been cut back to reveal the head, but that process serves to let the flavour deteriorate and alas the natural moisture in the vegetable dries out. Dear Supermarkets, please stop it. I love to pull back the leaves and peek at the pearly white florets within. It’s part of the fun!
If it’s really fresh, you can eat the leaves too. Stir fry with olive oil and garlic, or simmer for a while so they steam, then dress with lemon juice. To cook a cauliflower and keep the most flavour, steaming it seems to be the best way, or gently simmering it in water with added lemon juice. That keeps it white. Roasted cauliflower is gorgeous, and oh my…cauliflower pakoras are to die for. I have steamed a whole cauliflower before and served it with a mild egg and lemon sauce. It didn’t need anything else.
After I suggested starting up CLiF (the Cauliflower LiBeration Front) my boyfriend said I needed some sleep. He is quite probably right. *grin*