You will be hard pressed to find a contemporary, farm-to-table restaurant that isn’t serving some version of their cauliflower as a starter, as a side dish, or as an option for vegetarian eaters. The amazing versatility of cauliflower let’s one easily eat it like rice, sear it to a golden hue like a piece of steak, enjoy it broken up into natural florets, or serve it in puree form like mashed potatoes. Luckily, cauliflower is a vegetable liked by many individuals. It truly isn’t hard to love. However, if you often find yourself at the supermarket picking up a head of cauliflower only to put it down because you’ve convinced yourself it isn’t interesting enough, turn to this recipe to revitalize your palate and to add some diversity to your vegetable repertoire.
Serving cauliflower at home can be a welcome change for those who reserve it for dining out. When cauliflower is roasted to succulence, it becomes something else, an excellent diversion from your day to day meals. It is easy to prepare and makes for a light spring supper. In this recipe, one head of cauliflower can stretch to feed up to four individuals, but can also make a household of one or two happy with leftovers. After cutting out two half-inch steaks from the center of the vegetable, make sure to break up the remaining pieces into bite sized florets. The key to magically making cauliflower so scrumptious is to allow the vegetable to go through a maillard reaction, a term used to describe the browning of foods. The browning of foods reduces the sugar content of the food item by drawing the sugars out to the surface by applying heat, thereby creating a caramelized crust. This caramelized crust adds flavor to foods. Named after a French chemist, Louis Camille Maillard, a maillard reaction is what occurs when the natural amino acids in food and the reducing of their sugars give a browning effect that is responsible for making food taste good.
Searing the cauliflower steaks and florets in a hot pan and then transferring them to a hot oven will achieve the browning effect we want. The salty sweet combination of capers and golden raisins is a match made in heaven. The cauliflower will pick up the briny flavors of the capers and textured sweetness of the raisins, heightening not only your mood, but the entire spread. Nutmeg is grated on top at the end, leaving earthy notes to linger on your palate. This meal presents beautifully on a platter and comes together in less than thirty minutes. Perfect for those last-minute plans to have a guest or two over.
Impressive Cauliflower Recipe
Cauliflower • Capers & Golden Raisins Sauce • Nutmeg
Yields 2 – 4
• 1 whole head of cauliflower, cut starting from the center to create two ½ inch cauliflower steaks, remainder cut into small florets, leaves removed and discarded
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1 cup chicken stock + 2 cups chicken stock, divided
• 3 tbsp capers
• 3 tbsp golden raisins
• 2 tbsp minced shallots
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• Freshly grated nutmeg
• Curly parsley, as garnish (optional)
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Score the stems of the two cauliflower steaks on both sides. Pat dry thoroughly. Season cauliflower steaks and small florets with salt and pepper, to taste.
• In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Sear the two cauliflower steaks on medium heat until golden, approximately 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the cauliflower steaks to a baking sheet. Set aside.
• Add the cauliflower florets into the same nonstick skillet. Sear on medium heat until golden for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, add more olive oil. Transfer the florets to the same baking sheet with the cauliflower steaks. Spread evenly. Pour one cup of chicken stock into the baking sheet (not over the cauliflower). Transfer to the preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes. When the cauliflower is roasted, turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven while you make the sauce. The residual heat from the oven will keep the cauliflower nice and warm. Please note: if there is any chicken stock left over in the baking sheet, very carefully transfer the very hot stock to a separate bowl or measuring cup and reserve for later use in the sauce.
• While the cauliflower is roasting in the oven, use the same nonstick skillet they were seared in to make the sauce. Add the unsalted butter, capers, golden raisins, minced shallots, and oregano. Sauté on medium heat until aromatic and sizzling, and when the capers have bloomed.
• Add two cups of chicken stock (plus the reserved chicken stock from the baking sheet, if any) to the skillet. On high heat, sauté all ingredients until thickened, approximately 2 minutes, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Transfer the cauliflower steaks onto a serving platter with the two steaks side by side in the center and the florets on top and around the steaks.
• Spoon the capers and golden raisins sauce generously over the cauliflower steaks and florets. Grate with fresh nutmeg and garnish with curly parsley. Serve!