Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cauliflower, anchovies and raisins?

Cauliflower? Cauliflower? I've never been a big fan of Cauliflower. White; boring; not much taste. When I ate it as a kid, I would eat it raw, just like all my other vegetables, with a little mayonnaise to increase the interest level. (I ate all my veggies this way, even raw spinach). In adulthood, I perhaps tried steaming it a few times, but that's pretty boring. And I never tried much else.

Then, over at cousin Beverly's for one of her family soirees, and there, in the center of the table, is a cauliflower salad with a mustardy kind of sauce. It was an eye opening experience. I know I had seconds, and probably thirds. I'm pretty sure I asked for the recipe, but don't know where I put it. In any opened up the possibilities for cauliflower, and's only been three or four years since I had that.
But then I read one of those lists about things I should be eating, and this thing called "cruciferous" vegetables keeps popping up, and you can get kinda tired of eating broccoli. Though I do have a newfound appreciation for the magic of cabbage, but more on that another time, since I have a head of it in my fridge, just waiting for some inspiration. And somehow cauliflower came up in discussion with Susan, and she found a recipe that used Cauliflower and garam masala. Which will have to wait for another day.

On my weekend walk to Whole Foods (which I discovered is less than a 15 minute walk away, hurray), they had big heads of cauliflower sitting out front on special for $2.00 a head, and into the basket it went, awaiting appropriate inspiration. Which again, came from some web browsing, and this time, from Bittman.

Bittman is always a good place to start, and I had never tried searching his blog for recipes....I've always just kinda taken them as they come across the threshold, since they're so seasonal anyway. But there was Cauliflower, Raisins and Anchovy Vinaigrette. I have to say, this did not immediately appeal to me. The raisins threw me off...I'm wary of savory recipes with fruit in them, but am coming around to them. It was the anchovies though, that were the attraction, because I had a little jar of them sitting in my cupboard...probably for a year or two, because I had seen ANOTHER Bittman blog post which used anchovies in a simple pasta sauce. Obviously, I haven't made that that the jar is open, I need to do something with the rest of those anchovies. And the roasting. I was pretty sure that if I were going to like cauliflower, that it would be roasted. Roasted veggies rock!

So...seeing as how I had everything I needed, I went and made this. As you can see from the picture, it was a nice big plate of cauliflower, tinted a nice brown by the roasting and the anchovies. Since it was a weeknight, and I came home from work hungry, I polished off the rest of the white bean hummus that Trader Joes puts out....which is a great thing to have in the fridge, because you could always just live on that for a day or two with some crackers or toast. And I got to use up the rest of the cucumber that was threatening to become a messy shadow of its former self if I didn't pay attention to it.

The recipe says it was for 8. I assume that was as a side dish. As a main dish, for myself, I ate about 1/3 of it, maybe a bit less. And supplemented with a leftover chicken leg from the weekend....but that's about it.

The taste was a nice gentle and umami-ish. Not too fact I needed to add a bit of salt. And not overwhelmingly anchovy...just about right. I skimped a bit on the parsley, because my new kitchen parsley plant is still not that big....I wouldn't have minded a little more. I could have easily done without the raisins, but they were a nice visual note, and the little bit of sweetness was a nice complement. I could see sprinkling some walnuts over this for some crunch. Maybe I'll try that with the next leftover batch.

An interesting "note to self". You only add a few tablespoons of the anchovy dressing during the roasting. The rest is added at the end, just before serving. I tasted the cauliflower before adding the major dressing -- bland and boring. Which goes to show that if I try new things with cauliflower, I need to do some bold flavors. I could see doing a lemon-tahini thing. Next time....I hear cauliflower's good for you. And for $2.00 a head feeding me for three meals, that's a pretty economical bunch of meals!

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