It’s Cauliflower Time

CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower has come into its own. It’s become the vegetable of the moment. It’s healthy, versatile, and usually available. You can rice it, dice it, roast it, puree it… and hide it.

Enjoy some of these cauliflower discoveries that are certainly not like the way my mother made cauliflower.

Here’s a cauliflower menu from appetizer through main course. I haven’t tried it in a dessert yet, but I know there must be recipes out there. And most of these are also suitable for Passover which will be here before we know it.

The big game’s over but buffalo wings are great anytime. Try substituting cauliflower for the chicken. Not only is the treat now much healthier but it’s also parve. Dip away!. Here’s a link to a simple recipe. If you have an air fryer, try it for a fast preparation. https://www.thekitchn.com/easy-3-ingredient-buffalo-cauliflower-bites-261643

My daughter Rebecca loves to make soup. She found this recipe somewhere and put her own twist on it. It also freezes well and like most soups is gluten free. The hardest thing is roasting the cauliflower, but that allows time to prepare the rest of the meal.

Feb. 25 Cauliflower soupCreamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup   Serves 4

Ingredients
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into bite-size florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Fine sea salt
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more if needed
Scant ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For garnish: 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, chives and/or green onions

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If desired, line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
  2. On the baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until lightly and evenly coated in oil. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  3. Bake until the cauliflower is tender and caramelized on the edges, 25 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway.
  4. Once the cauliflower is almost done, in a Dutch oven or soup pot, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and turning translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the broth.
  6. Reserve 4 of the prettiest roasted cauliflower florets for garnish. Then transfer remaining cauliflower to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, to give the flavors time to meld.
  7. Once the soup is done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender, working in batches if necessary or use an immersion blender.
  8. Add the butter and blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and nutmeg and blend again. Add additional salt, to taste and lemon juice if needed. Blend again.
  9. Top individual bowls of soup with 1 roasted cauliflower floret and a sprinkle of chopped parsley, green onion and/or chives.

NOTES: It’s gluten free. To make it vegan, use some vegan butter. Spice it up with a little cayenne. Keeps for months in the freezer. Though you’ll have to wash another bowl, it’s easier to toss and salt the cauliflower in a bowl rather than on the sheet pan.

This salad comes from Fern Heinig, one of Shomrei’s dedicated MESH chefs. It’s simple and cooked al dente has all the crunch that a salad should have.

Feb 25 Broc caulCauliflower-Broccoli Salad

INGREDIENTS:
1 head cauliflower
1 bunch broccoli florets (about 3 cups of florets)
1/4 cup olive oil (or use cooking spray)
3 cloves garlic
Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard (or more to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut cauliflower and broccoli into florets. Chop garlic. Lay all out on baking sheet.  Coat with oil.  Roast until al dente (about 20 minutes depending upon size of florets).  Take out of oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Put into serving bowl.
  3. Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients. Pour over cauliflower and mix. This salad can be served at room temperature or warm.

This salad gives a Middle Eastern twist to cauliflower with the use of halloumi cheese and Aleppo pepper. I find Aleppo pepper has a nice spiciness without burning and a little fruitiness, too.

Feb 25 Halloumi in panRoasted Cauliflower Salad With Halloumi and Lemon

Ingredients
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Aleppo or 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 small shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
¼ cup golden raisins
1 large preserved lemon, seeded, halved, seeded, then very thinly sliced  about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 (8-ounce) block halloumi
6 ounces baby arugula (about 8 packed cups)
1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted and diced
1 cup torn fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender sprigs

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees and set a large rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 3 tablespoons olive oil, the Aleppo, coriander, turmeric, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to the hot baking sheet, spread in an even layer and roast until browned in spots and crisp-tender, tossing once halfway through, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, stir together the shallot, raisins, preserved lemon, vinegar and honey with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  4. Cut halloumi into 3/4-inch cubes and pat dry using a kitchen towel or paper towels. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high. Add the halloumi cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (You’ll want to be fairly attentive, flipping frequently, as you want to make sure the cubes toast without burning or melting.) Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with pepper.
  5. Toss arugula with half of vinaigrette until lightly coated; divide among plates or shallow bowls. Top with cauliflower, halloumi and avocado. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette; sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

NOTES: Go light on the salt as halloumi is a salty cheese and the preserved lemon also has salt. Sear the cheese in a nonstick pan. Or cut halloumi into slices and put a slice or two on top of the salad. Preserved lemon is usually available at a Middle East market or at Trader Joe’s. Can’t find it- use some lemon juice ,to taste. Halloumi cheese is available at most markets. Possible substitutes for halloumi are feta or queso blanco. Halloumi is also wonderfully tasty as an appetizer with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses or syrup.

This Cauliflower kugel might be better than noodle kugel says the author of this recipe. Depending on your taste , that might actually be true.

Feb. 25 kugelCauliflower Kugel

Ingredients
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 medium cauliflower (approx. 750-850g)
5 eggs
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp paprika
2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees F.
  2. Remove any tough, blemished outer leaves from the cauliflower and discard. Cut off the tough, round stem at the bottom of the cauliflower and discard. You can keep the softer, smaller leaves for the kugel. Wash the cauliflower well in a bowl of warm water 3-4 times to remove any unwanted dirt. Dry well.
  3. Slice entire cauliflower very thinly (approx. ¼ inch). Most will crumble into small pieces, but you should have some thin slices of cauliflower that have held their shape. Reserve a few slices for top of kugel.
  4. Combine onion and crumbled cauliflower in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix eggs and 2/3 cup olive oil along with black pepper, sea salt, and paprika in another small mixing bowl. 6. Pour egg mixture over cauliflower mixture and mix well, so cauliflower mixture is thoroughly coated in liquid. Mix in reserved smaller cauliflower leaves.
  6. Transfer to a 7″ x 10″ baking dish. Nestle the reserved thin slices of cauliflower on top. Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 410 degrees F or until golden. Then cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and lower the temperature to 320 degrees F. Bake for another hour and 10 minutes. Enjoy hot, or store in the refrigerator and reheat for up to 4 days.

Cauliflower makes a great main dish that is surprisingly filling. I’ve served roasted cauliflower steaks, cauliflower piccata and most recently cauliflower adobo.

If you like piccata sauce, the garlicky lemony sauce often served with chicken, you’ll love cauiflower this way. One of cauliflower’s merits is that it has a relatively milk taste so the sauce really comes through. This can be a main or a side dish.

Fberuary 25 PiccataCauliflower Piccata  Serves 2-4

Ingredients
non-stick olive oil spray
1 head cauliflower
2 teaspoons olive oil
kosher salt
pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
2 small shallots, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 4090 degrees. Like a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. Remove outer leaves and bottom of stem from cauliflower. Slice into 1 inch slabs. You will have a few really nice “steaks” and lots of florets. Use it all.
  3. Place slabs and florets on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until edges are crisp and slightly browned, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add shallots. Cook until crisp, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add wine and cook another 3-4 minutes, scraping up brown bits.
  6. Add vegetable stock, lemon juice and capers. Cook until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove cauliflower from oven. Put on serving platter and top with sauce Garnish with parsley.

NOTE:  If cauliflower is made ahead, put in pan with sauce and gently reheat.  Substitute sweet onion for shallots. Substitute bouillon powder for stock. This will reheat as a leftover but lose a little of its crispness. The taste will still be there. Serve with brown rice to soak up that lemony goodness.

Chicken adobo is a classic Filipino dish. The cauliflower variation has all the pungency of the original but far fewer calories. Beware this can be spicy. Leave it to The New York Times to come up with the recipe.

Feb. 25cauliflower adoboCauliflower Adobo     Serves 4

Ingredients
1 large cauliflower (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more as needed
½ cup rice-wine vinegar
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons raw or light brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 bay leaves
1 Thai chile, halved lengthwise, or 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3 scallions, thinly sliced, for serving

Directions

  1. Trim leaves and woody stalk from the cauliflower, then cut through the root into 8 wedges. Season both sides of each wedge with salt and pepper. Reserve any loose cauliflower pieces.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place one layer of the wedges in the skillet cut-side down and cook without moving them until well browned on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and continue until all the cauliflower is seared, adding more oil as needed. Return all the cauliflower to the pan with uncooked side facing down.
  3. Add 1/4 cup water, any loose cauliflower pieces, 2 teaspoons black pepper, rice-wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, bay leaves and Thai chile. Cover and let simmer over medium heat until the cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Uncover, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook, basting the cauliflower occasionally with the sauce, until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Serve the cauliflower with plenty of sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

NOTE: Serve with a grain – rice is nice-and a green salad.

If you are looking for more exotic flavors, here’s a recipe from a previous food column (Flavors for the Weekend, May 21, 2020) for  Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini and Silan (date syrup).

Look for suitable for Passover dishes up next in a couple of weeks. Please share YOUR favorite recipes with the Shomrei community by emailing me at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

 

Image: “Cauliflower” by Nick Saltmarsh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg, a professional librarian, is a long-time congregant and serves as volunteer librarian for Shomrei's Lampert Library. The library, one of the best-kept secrets at Shomrei is used by the Rabbi, congregants, students and teachers of the JLC (Hebrew School) and Preschool. It's a tremendous resource completely supported by your donations and gifts. Aileen also heads the Shomrei Caterers, the in-house food preparation group. Can there be any better combination…good food and good books!
Aileen Grossberg

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