Monday, February 4, 2008

Florets two ways

O.k. This is typical of the kind of dinner I eat most of the week - a big fat bowl of some singular dish. Yes, it's not very nutritiously sound, but I still haven't figured out a good way to make a balanced meal that I can make in batches and will last a few days. It's a tricky one.

Today's dinner was a nice head of cauliflower and broccoli, with enough left over for a repeat meal at lunch tomorrow. But no matter how good the "meal" is the night before, I'm almost always adverse to eating it again the very next day when not even 24 hours have
passed. Sigh... anyone want to do a leftover lunch exchange program with me?

I like my broccoli clean and simple with just a little garlic. It shouldn't be difficult to do, but in fact it's taken me a few years to get them just the way I like them - a vibrant green that's not too crisp, not too soft - sort of "broccoli al dente." I blanch them in a large, shallow pan with salted boiling water for 3 minutes, never more. Drain, then sauté on medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil, thin sliced garlic and salt to taste. I think it also makes a huge difference to use organic broccoli - they seem to be much sweeter.

The cauliflower was baked "popcorn" style, with a little guidance from 101 Cookbooks. The only adjustments I made was to omit the breadcrumbs (I almost never have bread in my apartment), add an extra clove of garlic, replace some of the olive oil with some irrisistible browned butter, and toss with a boat-load of grated gruyere cheese at the end. I would also recommend cutting the florets into really tiny pieces, smaller than your average bite size. That way you'll have many light and crisp, almost chip-like (popcorn-like) pieces.

It was so yummy I almost ate the entire head in one sitting. If it weren't for my stomach screaming at my mouth to stop munching away, I would at this very moment have a full head of cauliflower in my tummy.
I'm almost afraid I'll wake up in the middle of the night and finish the rest. Please do try this at home.

Recipe: Cauliflower Popcorn
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 head of cauliflower, washed
1 tbspn Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbspn browned butter
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Gruyere grated to taste
1 fresh red chile pepper, minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in the middle.

Trim the cauliflower into uniform, smaller-than-bite-sized florets.

In a rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with a few generous tablespoons of olive oil, browned butter and salt. Toss until the cauliflower is well coated. Bake for about 25-30 minutes total.

Pull the pan out of the oven,
add the garlic and chiles, and give the everything a thorough toss. Return the pan to the oven and finish with another ten minutes or so. The cauliflower should be tender throughout and nicely browned.

Serve immediately and, if possible, try not to eat all in one sitting.


Anonymous said...

WOW! this sounds yummy! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for posting the recipe.

mimsi said...

my favorite way to eat cauliflower (and brussel sprouts) is to generously toss with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
roast in 450 oven for 20-30 minuts. keep shaking the pan every 5-10 minutes. yummy.
carmelized crisp and super sweet.

Anonymous said...

you must have been a flatulent foodie that night!!