Sunday, April 11, 2010

One pot cauliflower

Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon.Image via Wikipedia

Spring in central Ohio is gorgeous. After the miserable, soul-sucking gray months of damp, cold winter the explosion of flowering trees really is miraculous. Tulips are a marvel. Hyacinths send me into orbit. Daffodils make me smile every damn time I see hthem.

But then I sneeze and rub my red, watery eyes. I gasp for my albuterol and happily ingest prednisone, my lungs begging for merciful corticosteroids. Ah, Zyrtec, Zyrtec, come hither. Mama needs thee.

My food thoughts, happily, are less itchy, scratchy, and wheezy. I turn away from February and early March carbohydrate-laden chowathons, and turn to salads and fruits, finally starting once again to have some taste. My kids, sick of bananas, sliced apples, and pears, feast on strawberries that actually taste like strawberries. Sure, they're still imported, but not from as far. Asparagus. Ramps. A glorious pile of plump green beans greeted me at the market yesterday for NINETY NINE cents a pound!

What to do with it all? Well, here's an idea.

From my favorite new cookbook, Mad Hungry, I acquired the completely nifty practice of slicing cauliflower like bread to bake, roast, blanche, or steam. So much less waste! Remove the green leaves, cut out the woodiest part of the core, then slice. Today I combined my sliced flowerets with a fast pickle-like preparation on the stove, cribbed from Mollie Katzen in Salads. An all-in-one salad prep, and I must say, it's pretty good. We'll have it all week either as a stand-alone side dish, tossed in greens with a salad, or tossed with cooked beans and raisins as a lunch perhaps stuffed in pita.

Bavarian Spring Cauliflower Salad

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of waater
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Bavarian spice mix (Penzy's, optional product but tasty)
Whole peppercorns
2-3 bay leaves
1 cauliflower, cored, sliced like bread into florets
1 spritz lemon

Combine oil, vinegar, water, spice mix (if using), garlic, salt, a tablespoon or so of peppercorns, bay leaves, and cauliflower in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently until the cauliflower is done to your liking.

Transfer to a bowl, add a squeeze of lemon, remove bay leaves, and chill.

To serve, consider addition of capers. Sliced hard-boiled eggs would make this tapas-like. For that matter, canned or fresh tuna chunks wouldn't be out of place, with or without capers, or the hard-boiled eggs.

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