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Cheese Gives This Cauliflower Soup a Silky Texture


CauliflowerCauliflower Cheese Soup

Cauliflower is ideal for warm soups on cooler evenings. This Irish concoction comes together simply, feeds four and is meat-free. Butter up some brown bread, toss a small salad and you have a full meal.

1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 quart vegetable stock
1 large cauliflower, divided into small florets
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
4 ounces freshly grated mature cheddar cheese (see note)
1 cup whole milk
4 teaspoons heavy cream, for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Gently sauté the onion and potato in the butter over a very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Add the stock and cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Purée in a blender or food processor, then return the soup to the pan and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and milk. Reheat gently, adjust the seasoning and serve, topped with a spoonful of cream and some chopped chives.

Note: Already shredded cheese is likely to be treated with potato starch or corn starch to prevent caking. If you use this in this soup recipe, it will likely make it thicker and gummier.

Makes 4 servings.

From “The Avoca Café Cookbook” by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes

(photo: Monika Szczygieł)

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OK, It’s Called Romanesco. But What Do You Do with It?


Romanesco

Romanesco

It caught my eye as soon as I approached Cora Lamar’s Oak Hill Farms table at the Pearl Farmers Market Saturday.

“What is that?” I asked. The woman standing next to me in line was as fascinated as I was. Its outer leaves reminded me of cauliflower, though the yellow-tinged green suggested it might be broccoflower. But its fractal florets gave it an other-worldly cast. (Not sure what fractal means? Click here.)

“Romanesco,” was Lamar’s reply.

Romanesco and cauliflower

Romanesco and cauliflower

Never heard of that before.

“What do you do with it?”

“Whatever you do with cauliflower,” she said.

At $2 a head, I had to buy one and give it a try. A few moments later, I ran into chef James Moore, who offered the same advice as Lamar, just use it the way you would cauliflower, raw or cooked.

When I got home, I did a little research. It seems that romanesco dates back to the 16th century, so it’s not some sort of genetically modified creation.

Kelly Rossiter on TLC’s website offers a pretty good description of it: “This vegetable is such an enigma that it is called a romanesco cauliflower in the U.S. and Canada, a romanesco broccoli and a romanesco cabbage in Germany. It is the most amazing chartreuse color and unlike hybrids like broccoflower and orange and purple cauliflower, it is a species unto itself. It demands photographing as much as cooking, and I can pretty much guarantee that it is the only vegetable you’ll ever eat that is a fractal.”

I broke off a floret and tasted it raw. Yes, there was a resemblance to cauliflower, but there was also a greener, more cruciferous quality that made Rossiter’s mention of cabbage seem apt.

So, how would it taste alongside cauliflower? I had a head in the refrigerator already, so I decided to roast half of each with some olive oil and garlic for about 35 minutes at 400 degrees. They cooked up at the same time, and the same slight difference in flavor was noticeable.

Better still was a velvety low-carb soup I made with the other halves as well as some leeks I also picked up from Lamar. It’s was so luxuriously rich that I except I”ll be back for more romanesco while it’s in season.

Romanesco-Cauliflower Leek Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large head cauliflower, chopped, or 1 romanescco head, chopped (or a combination of the two)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 cups vegetable broth
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream (optional)

Romanesco Cauliflower Soup

Romanesco Cauliflower Soup

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the leeks, cauliflower, and garlic for about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

Remove the soup from heat. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the heavy cream, and continue blending until smooth. Garnish with fried garlic chips, if desired.

Makes 12 servings.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 155 calories,  8.3 g  carbohydrates, 35 mg cholesterol, 13.1 g fat,  2.2 g fiber, 2.4 g  protein, 378 mg sodium

Adapted from allrecipes.com

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Cauliflower Steaks Are an Easy Vegan Main Course


Cauliflower Steaks

Need an easy vegetarian main course that’s loaded with plenty of flavor? These cauliflower steaks cook up quickly without too much fuss.

Cauliflower Steaks

2 slices of cauliflower cut 3/4- to 1-inch thick
Oil, to taste
Salt, to taste
Seasonings of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash cauliflower and trim away the leaves at the base. Set the head on a cutting board. Cut across the center of the head to divide it in half. Make another cut 3/4- to 1-inch thick on each side. Make sure the slices, or steaks, are as close to each other as possible since you will be cooking them together. (Reserve the remaining cauliflower for another purpose, such as roasting.)

In a cast-iron skillet or oven-proof pan, heat a tablespoon or so of oil over medium-high heat. Rub or coat the cauliflower steaks with a little extra oil and add salt and your choice of seasonings,  including black pepper or cayenne pepper. (I used truffle oil and truffle salt to add an aromatic, earthy quality.)

Cook on each side for about 2 minutes until the steaks begin to turn golden brown. Then place the skillet in the oven and bake until tender, about 10 minutes.You could also grill the steaks, making sure they cook over indirect heat, so they don’t burn.

If you want to vary the seasonings, you could add condiments usually used on beef steaks, from Worcestershire sauce to Heinz 57 to sriracha, depending on your tastes.

Makes 2 servings.

From John Griffin

 

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Roasted Cauliflower with Parsley Sauce


Roasted Cauliflower with Parsley Sauce

The parsley sauce on this cauliflower dish is extremely versatile. “Like pesto, this no-cook green sauce can be used in many ways,” writes Michael Schwartz, who offers the recipe in “Michael’s Genuine Food” (Clarkson Potter, $35), written with Joann Cianciulli. “It’s awesome spooned over grilled vegetables, fish, chicken pork and lamb or served as a dip for crudités or focaccia. The parsley sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, but is best when blended at the last minute to keep the deep green color.”

Roasted Cauliflower with Parlsey Sauce

1 head cauliflower (2 to 3 pounds), cut into florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Parsley Sauce

Parsley Sauce:
1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
2 anchovies in oil, drained
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower in olive oil before roasting.

Put the cauliflower in a mixing bowl and toss with the oil, salt and pepper. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet. Roast, shaking the pan halfway through cooking, until tender and slightly charred, 40 to 45 minutes.

While the cauliflower is cooking, make the parsley sauce: Put the parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, pepper and oil in a blender. Purée until the mixture is completely smooth and bright green. The sauce should be wet and slightly soupy in consistency.

When the cauliflower has cooked through, return it to the bowl and toss with the parsley sauce to coat evenly. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Michael’s Genuine Food” by Micahel Schwartz and Joann Cianciulli

 

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Griffin to Go: In Praise of Cauliflower


Cauliflower is versatile.

Cauliflower is in season, and it’s cheap. So, I’ve been eating a lot of it.

I’m almost always surprised, though, at how versatile it is.

When I was growing up, cauliflower was only served two ways: raw with other vegetables or steamed with a little butter or cheese on it. Both are great, but why stop there?

For those of us watching our carbohydrate intake, mashed cauliflower is a great alternative to mashed potatoes, with only 5 grams per serving and 3 grams of dietary fiber. Steam the cauliflower until it’s soft, then add it to a mixer with butter, salt, milk or whatever you like in your mashed potatoes — outside of the potatoes, that is. Don’t forget some roasted garlic or Parmesan cheese for added flavor.

Then there are Cauliflower Steaks that you can flavor how you choose, including your favorite steak seasoning. It’s an excellent vegan main course, if you’re looking to give up meat during a meal or two. All you have to do is cut the head in half, then cut your steaks from the center of each half. Use the rest of the head in a soup or roast it in the oven.

One option for the latter comes from Michael Schwartz’s new cookbook, “Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat” (Clarkson Potter, $35), written with Joann Cianciulli: Roasted Cauliflower with Parsley Sauce.

Cauliflower Popcorn

“Cauliflower can be a little bland on its own,” Schwartz writes, “but blasting the florets in a hot oven concentrates their natural sweetness and transforms the lily-white vegetable to a crisp caramel-brown. Tossing the roasted cauliflower with emerald green parsley sauce brightens the charred flavor. This is a universal side that goes with everything.”

Cauliflower belongs the vegetable family that includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and greens, such as kale and collards. In addition to its lively flavor, cauliflower is also good for you. According to nutritiondata.self.com, a single serving has only 25 calories and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. “It is also a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese.”

By the way, don’t throw away those leaves that enfold themselves about the cauliflower head, like some sort of natural Caesar’s wreath. They can be used in soup stocks.

SavorSA has run several cauliflower recipes in the past, from soup to snacks. Here are two worth cooking up, depending on how you want to use this wonderful vegetable:

 

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Cauliflower Popcorn. That’s No Typo.


Toss the cauliflower in olive oil and salt.

For those who are looking to give up or at least cut back on corn in their diet, this recipe from Bob Blumer’s “Glutton for Pleasure: Signature Recipes, Epic Stories and Surreal Etiquette” (Whitecap, $29.95) offers a good substitute for popcorn. The flavors are remarkably similar once you coat the cauliflower in olive oil and a good salt. (Add the mashed cauliflower to replace potatoes and you can cut back on carbohydrate levels.)

Surprised? You’re not alone. “Everywhere I go I sing its praises,” writes the star of the TV shows, “The Surreal Gourmet” and “Glutton for Punishment.” “Usually I am met with skepticism when I boast that it’s so good even kids devour it. After all, who woulda thunk that cauliflower could actually become addictive? But it’s true.”

It is true. But you need to watch the cooking time. I had a slightly smaller head of cauliflower than usual, which meant cutting back on the oil, the salt and the cooking time. Mine was ready in 45 minutes, instead of the hour that Blumer mentions. But, oh, it does taste good.

Play with the flavors. Add curry powder or black pepper, Parmesan cheese, whatever you would put on popcorn.

By the way, Blumer suggests making this dish with James Brown’s “The Popcorn” playing in the background.

Cauliflower Popcorn

Cauliflower Popcorn

1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

1 popcorn container

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut out and discard cauliflower core and thick sterns. Trim remaining cauliflower into florets the size of golf balls. In a large bowl, add cauliflower, olive oil and salt. Toss thoroughly.

Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper, if available, for easy cleanup). Roast for 1 hour, or until much of each floret has become golden brown. (That’s the caramelization process converting the dormant natural sugars into sweetness.) The browner the florets, the sweeter they will taste. Turn 3 or 4 times during roasting.

Use crumpled up aluminum foil or paper towels to create a false bottom in your popcorn container, fill it with cauliflower, and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From “Glutton for Pleasure” by Bob Blumer

 

 

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Enjoy Cauliflower Two New Ways


Cauliflower

During the winter, I’m always looking for fresh new ways of preparing vegetables, and cauliflower is an old favorite, whether it’s served raw or cooked. The following two recipes are from a recent hunt.

One is a soup from Dean Fearing’s 1987 “The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook,” which I felt fortunate enough to find on a clearance rack. It draws a little kick from Creole mustard as well as some Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces added near the end of cooking. Fearing also offers a make-ahead tip in case you want to serve this at a dinner party.

The second is a salad recipe that comes from the recent “Eating Well: 500 Calorie Dinners” cookbook. It goes together quickly and gains a pleasant sweet-tart flavor, not to mention color, from the addition of chopped red apple.

Cauliflower Creole Mustard Soup with Green Onions

[amazon-product]B000VYVXC4[/amazon-product]1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 cups raw cauliflower florets, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white port wine
1/2 cup sherry
1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 sachet of 1 bay leaf, 5 sprigs fresh time and 1 tablespoon white peppercorns tied in a cheesecloth bag
1/4 cup Creole mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion, celery, garlic, shallots and cauliflower in oil for about 5 minutes or until onion is transparent.

Stir in port and cook over high heat for about 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

Add sherry and cook for about 3 minutes or until liquor bouquet dissipates.

Add stock and sachet, bring to a boil, then simmer fro about 30 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove sahet.

Pour soup into a blender and bend until very smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and return to heat. Stir in mustard. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, pepper and Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.

Whisk in cream and heat through, but do not allow to boil. Pour equal portions into warm serving bowls. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve immediately.

Tip: Without the final addition of heavy cream, soup may be made up to 2 days in advance, tightly covered and refrigerated. Reheat and stir in heavy cream just before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Adapted from “The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook” by Dean Fearing

Creamy Chopped Cauliflower Salad

[amazon-product]0881508462[/amazon-product]5 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped cauliflower forets (about 1/2 large head)
2 cups chopped hearts of romaine
1 tart-sweet red apple, chopped

Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, shallots, caraway seeds and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add cauliflower, romaine and apple. toss to coat.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Eating Well: 500 Calorie Dinners”

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Roasted Cauliflower


This simple dish comes together in two minutes and cooks for 15, so it’s a great side dish for those without a lot of time on their hands.

Roasted Cauliflower

5 cups cauliflower florets
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place in a roasting dish and cook until the cauliflower begins to brown slightly, about 15 minutes.

The roasted flavor of the cauliflower makes many dishes special, such as cauliflower soup, fresh salads, pizza or mashed cauliflower.

Makes 2-4 servings.

From “The Harvest Eating Cookbook” by Keith Snow

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Fight Winter With Cauliflower Cheddar Soup


CauliflowerCheddarSoupThis winter warmer is silky on the tongue, yet full of flavor from the combination of onion and sweet potato as well as cauliflower and cheddar cheese.

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

1 large onion, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 quart vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt, to taste
Lemon pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream or fat-free half-and-half, plus more for garnish
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot, sauté onion and sweet potato in butter until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add stock, cauliflower, salt and lemon pepper. Bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.

Let cool 10 minutes. Purée in small batches in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return to the stove and reheat, stirring in the cream and cheese until the cheese is melted.  Serve hot with a drizzle of cream on top.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts soup.

From John Griffin, freely adapted from “Avoca Cafe Cookbook”

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Mash Cauliflower for a Low-Carb Alternative


DiabeticTG-2This is an excellent low-carb substitution for mashed potatoes that even cauliflower-haters enjoy.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
6 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, divided use
2 slices bacon, optional (see note)
1/8 cup whipping cream or sour cream
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Steam the cauliflower until it is tender.

If using the bacon, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan while the cauliflower is steaming. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove to paper towels and dry. Cut into strips.

When the cauliflower is ready, drain well. With paper towels, gently squeeze as much excess water as you can.

Place cauliflower in a mixing bowl with the remaining butter and whipping cream. Let the butter melt somewhat before you start to mix it. Add bacon strips, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until desired consistency is reached.

Note: You can also use roasted garlic, cheese or other flavors.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From John Griffin

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