Friday, July 29, 2011

Cauliflower is not boring!

Cauliflower is kind of a weird looking vegetable. Related to brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli, it's the least vegetable looking thing, more resembling mold or bubbles sprouting from some kind of a green orb. It's something that was always available at Stop and Shop growing up, shrink wrapped and generally looking uninspired. But when you see it in the farmers market, it's actually pretty darn cool looking. There are even different varieties available now, varying from a creamsicle-hued orange, to a feminine looking purple, and then there are those wacky geometrically freaky Romanesco varieties. Even the classic white cauliflower looks downright adorable when hugged by those cabbage like leaves, cabbage patch kids like. 
And that's what we cooked up today. Sans shrink wrap, but complete with outer leaves, we decided to bake up the cauliflower florets two ways: simply buttered vs. curried. Snap off those green leaves, and slice off pretty even sized florets. After that the sky's the limit.
If you're just going straight buttered cauliflower, grab yourself about a tablespoon to two tablespoons of softened butter. I take bits of the butter and actually rub them into each floret, later sprinkling with salt and pepper. Throw this into a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until it gets lightly browned. You'll have a nice clean tasting cauliflower side dish: salty, buttery, and call me crazy, but the end result has a little bit of a cross between the texture of a broccoli stalk, and the flavor of a baked turnip.
If you're going a little further with spicing up the vegetable, you may want to try the curried version. Still butter up your cauliflower florets as above, and throw into the oven for about seven minutes or so. While in the oven, prep your curry dressing. You'll want to take about half a teaspoon of peppercorns, a pinch of yellow mustard seed, a pinch of coriander seeds and crush them up w/ mortar and pestle. Now, add a tablespoon of curry powder, a little salt, about two tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and a teaspoon of water. Whisk the whole thing up. Now, take your cauliflower out of the oven, and drizzle the dressing over the florets. Throw the veggies back into the oven for about another seven minutes, and when they've browned up a bit, you're ready to eat. Spicy, deep curry flavor, and tartness from the vinegar really kicks up the fairly pedestrian vegetable. I'm sorry cauliflower. I didn't really mean that. You're just as exotic as broccoli. 

Damn it. Somebody give me some kohlrabi before I fall asleep. 

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