COLDS AND CAULIFLOWER
Waited all weekend for another blizzard. The quarter-inch of snow that fell, spitting and halting over two days, didn’t even cover the old gray stuff piled up curbside. I would have welcomed a blizzard, one wild and deep enough to give me a day’s respite from driving to work with a bad cold. I’ve spent the weekend cuddled under blankets, fireplace lit, cups of hot tea and lemon, with little relief. Finally, I decided I needed to cook something healing.
So right now, a pot of chicken soup simmers on the stove. Chicken bones and meat laced with goodies from produce drawer – fennel stalks with feathery leaves, an onion, some garlic cloves, a few stray carrots, a cut lemon peel and all. It will take hours to get enough flavor from this to clear sinuses.
Meanwhile, the head of cauliflower I meant to cook days ago threatened to go limp. So I trimmed it and broke it into florets. I chopped half a red onion, and heated olive oil in a large, heavy pot. I gave the onions and then the cauliflower a walk around the pot until they each started to color up. Then I poured in a 2 pound can of Marzano tomatoes (after processing them smooth), filled the can with water and added that to the pot, just enough to cover the cauliflower. Now all this needed was about 45 minutes, bubbling slowly in the pot, until the cauliflower was tender.
The result is close to pasta. And there’s no reason some nice tubular cooked pasta can’t be added, although the cauliflower is fine on its own. It only needs some grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley on top. I sat down with a nice warm bowl of this, poured on a thin drizzle of my best olive oil and a few strands of slivered basil from the windowsill. Then I inhaled. Suddenly, I could breathe again.
This is a more festive recipe for cauliflower.
CAULIFLOWER WITH CAPERS AND GOLDEN RAISINS
1 large head cauliflower, broken into small florets 6 tablespoons olive oil salt, ground black pepper 2 cloves garlic, peeled 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed and dried on paper towels 1/2 cup chicken stock 1 anchovy, minced 1/2 cup golden raisins 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons chopped flat parsley
1, Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cauliflower florets with half the olive oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spread cauliflower in single layers in two large rimmed sheet pans.
2. Roast, stirring occasionally, 35 to 45 minutes, until cauliflower is golden and crisp.
3. While the cauliflower roasts, heat remaining olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the garlic; cook stirring until barely golden, 5 to 6 minutes, then remove from the pan and discard. Add capers; cook until they pop about 3 minutes. Add breadcrumbs; cook, stirring, until breadcrumbs are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.
4. Add the stock and anchovy to the skillet; bring to a boil. Add raisins and vinegar. Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
4. Transfer cauliflower to serving bowl. Add raisin mixture and toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture and parsley over the top to serve.