Friday, January 8, 2010

Cauliflower Mimosa

I love Cauliflower... there I said it.  You can call me crazy, but I think it's a really delicious vegetable.  The added bonus is that it's in season in the winter.  There aren't too many vegetables that naturally grow in the winter months and Cauliflower is actually best from December to March.  Besides feeling good about adhering to the whole "locavore" way of life, you can also enjoy the fact that if you eat this wonderful brassica, you are doing yourself a favor since it has so many potential healthful benefits.

For starters, Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C.  If you're fighting off those pesky winter colds, it's a great way to get this important vitamin into your diet.  It's also low in calories, so you'll avoid packing on the winter weight if you eat it steamed or raw lightly dressed with olive oil and salt.  I've even read that eating Cauliflower may also have cancer-fighting effects because of the presence of a certain sulfur based compound that is thought to trigger enzymes that help remove carcinogens from your body.  Of course, that could also be why it can smell a little funny while you're cooking it.

One of my favorite ways to prepare Cauliflower is simply roasted, although it makes a great soup and is spectacular with curry in the Indian stalwart, Aloo Gobi.  The following is my take on an easy classic preparation that is time tested and hard to screw up.  It makes a great first course for a dinner party on a wintry night, or an excellent side dish to accompany a roast or braise.

Cauliflower Mimosa

1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
4 strips of bacon
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚
  2. Fry the bacon strips in an oven-safe skillet on the stovetop over medium heat until crispy.  Remove the bacon and crumble once it has cooled.  Save the bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Toss the cauliflower florets in the hot bacon grease until evenly coated.  Season with salt and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Depending on the size of your florets, you may have to adjust, but you will know it is done when the largest floret is fork-tender.
  4. Garnish with chopped egg, crumbled bacon, freshly ground pepper, and herbs. Serve immediately.
Variations:  You can turn this into a soup by pureeing the roasted cauliflower in a blender with chicken stock, vegetable stock, or court bouillon.  I like to finish it with a touch of cream and butter.  To make it vegetarian and/or lower calorie, simply omit the cream, butter, and bacon by using olive oil instead.  Garnish the soup with egg, bacon (optional), and herbs and if you want to get really fancy, splash a little truffle oil in there too.  This makes a terrific lunch along with a salad or a grilled cheese sandwich.

With wine: I would suggest a good quality white Burugundy if money is no object.  For a cheaper alternative, try a lightly oaked Chilean Chardonnay under 13˚ alcohol if you can find it.  I like the richness that Chardonnay offers and the sweet oak notes will be nice against the light char on the cauliflower from the roasting process and the smokiness of the bacon if you decide to use it.  Pretty much any dry bubbly will be great with this dish too.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my dear lord. This sounds utterly amazing. Going to try this one this weekend as well!