A cauliflower in my kitchen

Alemany Market cropped II See that blushing cauliflower peeking in between tomatoes, cucumbers and mint?

It and I were hanging in my kitchen in search of just the right flavor, happy in each others' company, relaxed in the absence of Child AND Husband.

Florets are easy, we agreed, but both it and I were set on not wasting the crunch of stalks and leaves on compost. Inspiration struck, I grabbed a knife. The conversation ended as I made my way to the stove.

This happened next and I like to think the cauliflower felt the love...

 

Cavolfiore cropped

Cimette di cavolfiore condite al forno Dressed and roasted cauliflower florets

for 6 to 8 people:

1 cauliflower head pinch of salt 1 handful parsley 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (or 2 anchovy fillets minced into a paste) 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons grated pecorino juice and zest of 1 lemon pinch of black pepper 1/3 cup olive oil

Remove the green leaves and stalks from the cauliflower and save. Cut small florets and steam until slightly yielding but still crunchy.

In the meantime, pick the parsley leaves and chop them finely. Throw in a bowl and combine with the anchovy paste, breadcrumbs, pecorino, juice, zest and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil in a stream.

Add the steamed floret and toss to coat with the dressing completely. Transfer to a baking dish and place in a 375˚F oven  for about 20 to 25 minutes, until they reach your preferred tenderness.

Serve warm to room temperature.

NOTES:

  • Substitute breadcrumbs with chopped toasted almonds to keep the crunch and lose the gluten
  • For an extra kick, use red pepper flakes instead of black pepper
  • For a touch of sweetness, toss in a handful of currants

 

Vellutata di gambi di cavolfiore con patate e porri al profumo di salvia e limone Sage and lemon scented soup of cauliflower stalks, potatoes and leeks

Minestra di gambi di cavolfiorefor 6 to 8 people:

stalks and leaves of 1 cauliflower head 2 medium size yellow potatoes 3 leeks 1 lemon 1/4 cup raw unsalted pistachios 6 to 7 sage leaves 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 splash dry white wine 1/2 cup grated pecorino

 

Chunk the cauliflower leaves and stalks. Peel and dice the potatoes.

Remove the green tops from the leeks and strip the first layer. Slice in thin wheels and float in abundant water, agitating often to let the grit fall off.

Zest the lemon. Mince the sage leaves and mix with the zest. Grind the pistachios, combine them with half the zest and sage mixture. Cut the naked lemon in wedges.

In a sauce pot, heat the olive oil with the remaining zest and sage mixture. Add the drained leeks with a generous pinch of salt. Sauté over medium heat stirring often, until translucent and quite soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and potatoes. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes and deglaze with the wine. When you can no longer smell the acidity of the wine, cover with warm water, bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer.

Let simmer until all the vegetables are soft enough to be very easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes.

In the meantime, line up 3 matching small serving bowl and arrange the pistachios, lemon and sage mixture in one, the lemon wedges in the other and the grated pecorino in the third.

Purèe the soup in a blender or with a stick blender or by cranking it through a food mill.

Pour back in the pot to simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes. This is the time to consider thickness: if deemed to your taste, adjust salt and pepper. If you prefer a runnier soup, add a bit of water before adjusting the seasoning.

Serve hot with the small serving bowls of condiments you prepared earlier, advising your guest to layer as follows: soup, pecorino, pistachios and a squeeze of lemon.