February 19th, 2013

Cauliflower Love


Cauliflower Cauliflower Cauliflower
Everywhere, Cauliflower.

Lately this cruciferous vegetable, a beautiful mind, a compact head of rumbled white curd, has been The Thing
The Veggie King !

Raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, sauteed,
it has turned up in all kinds of dishes that I have eaten at restaurants, or read about in blogs, or cooked at home.

What was once commonly boiled into oblivion and buttered, or chopped into florets and tossed onto a tray with other crudites and dip, has taken on new respect and new dimension.


At Etch, a forward restaurant in our downtown area, chef Deb Paquette makes magic with that vegetable. A recent lunch special featured a riff on an egg salad sandwich–using blanched cauliflower. The components–aioli, mustard, capers, onions, celery, and olives–all cloaked the “curd” in what had the feel and flavor of egg salad,

but no eggs.

Trust me, it was an improvement over an egg salad sandwich.

She also serves raw cauliflower curds broken into granules and folded with creamy feta to spread on a crostini. Incredible.

Our food blogging friends have made terrific contributions of late, as well.
Check ’em out:

Rachel made a lush casserole, “cauli-cheese” where the florets melt under a blanket of perfectly made bechamel.

Faith roasted a head generously doused in her “bloomin” Indian spices.

Over at Food 52, the editors highlighted slabs of cauliflower, grilled like steaks.

It’s a testament to good change, creativity,
And the versatile meaty nature of this vegetable.


I have one to toss into the fray: roasted cauliflower with sweet red pepper sauce over vegetarian brown rice, dusted with buttery Marcona almonds, and chopped scallions.

The recipe is simple–and points more to technique than ingredients. But it yields a delicious main-dish meal that satisfies many dietary concerns.

Not only vegetarian, it is vegan AND gluten-free.

But “meaty” enough to make us omnivores happy too.


The recipe is in three parts, but easily accomplished in about the same time. (it won’t challenge your multi-tasking too much!)

While you’re roasting the grand florets, simply brushed with good olive oil and sea salt, you can also roast red bell peppers, onions, and garlic on a separate tray. As the nubbed edges of curd get that compelling brown crisp, red bells and company get charred and candied.

Caramel sweetness all around.


Meanwhile, make the brown rice.

I admit; I have shunned brown rice, and wrongly so. It stuck in my mind that it takes too long to cook. I also believe that I had one too many dishes of it, improperly prepared. You’ve probably experienced it too–either undercooked and waaaaay too chewy, or underseasoned and overcooked: gummy and insipid.

This recipe is more about technique. When you soak and rinse the brown rice and scrub the grains between your fingers, it helps to soften the outer husk. Cooking in vegetable broth helps infuse more flavor. I discovered that it takes less liquid and less time to cook, and yields savory rice, not clumpy, but plump nutlike grains.

This rice, which we know is better for you, is now a pleasure to eat.



1 large head cauliflower, cleaned, and cut into large florets
olive oil, to brush over florets
salt and black pepper to sprinkle over florets

to garnish later:
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1/4 cup chopped scallions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place cauliflower pieces onto a baking sheet and brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle salt and black pepper over the pieces.
Roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Keep cauliflower warm in the oven (set on 200) until time to assemble the dish.

2 red bell peppers, cut in half, seeded
½ medium onion, cut into chunks
3 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt and black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Brush red pepper halves with olive oil and place on baking sheet.
Brush onion chunks with olive oil and place next to pepper halves.
Coat garlic cloves with olive oil and place underneath pepper halves.
Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Roast until the pepper skins get blackened and blistered, about 15 minutes.
Cool and remove skins.
Place roasted peppers, onions, garlic, and any residual oil into a food processor fitted with a swivel blade.
Add ¼ teaspoon (or less) of cayenne, if desired.
Process until smooth.
Keep sauce warm in a saucepan on the stovetop.


1 1/4 cups brown rice
2 cups vegetable stock

Place rice in a large bowl and cover with water. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes.
Stir the grains around in the bowl. You’ll notice that the water has become cloudy.
Drain well.
Return the rice to the bowl and cover with fresh water.
Dip your hand into the bowl, and rub the grains between your thumb and fingers, scrubbing the grains. Drain.

Place rice in a large saucepan. Stir in vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let the rice sit and steam for another 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve.

Makes 2 1/2 cups cooked rice

Place a layer of cooked brown rice on the bottom of a casserole or baking dish. Nap a layer of roasted red pepper sauce over the rice, and nestle the roasted cauliflower pieces into the sauce. Dot remaining sauce over the cauliflower, garnish with marcona almonds and cilantro.

Serves 4


POST SCRIPT: Several of you have been very kind to check on me, in my blogging absence. I’m happy to report that I am making excellent progress on the cookbook, which has taken so much of my attention. I’m seeing an end point–and ahead of my May deadline. So, with luck, I’ll be around here a bit more. Nancy

Posted in Casseroles, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

25 Responses to “Cauliflower Love”
  1. Tammy Says:

    I am such a fan of the rumbled white curd. This recipe looks amazing Nancy and I will give it a try. I have found that rice is one of the few things that I sometimes use the microwave for – put it in and forget!

  2. Kath Says:

    Right, that’s it, what with you, Rachel and Michele all talking about cauli in the past week, I must get myself a couple and try all these lovely dishes. Glad to hear about the progress of the cookbook. x

  3. ernestine lawson Says:

    Love cauliflower and usally cook so simple with cheese on top. Because of you I can branch out :)
    Thanks for the tip on brown rice – you described perfectly the way mine would taste and now I will rinse and scrub for a good outcome….

  4. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    What a delicious sounding dish with lots of textures and colors. You are right about cauliflower showing up in so many restaurant dishes lately.

  5. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Nancy, I’ve been thinking about you and am so glad the book is going well. I love when many of us are writing about an ingredient at the same time! This dish sounds great, and I will be sure to try it as soon as possible.All the best.

  6. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Oh Nancy, what a perfect recipe for February. Just the colors make me happy. I use a lot of brown Basmati rice in my cooking, but will definitely try your method for cooking.
    I am pleased your book is coming along so well and look forward to all the good things it will no doubt bring to you. T

  7. Heather Says:

    I love cauliflower! Thank you Nancy, I’m going to try them all!

  8. Renee Says:

    So happy your book is going so well and even happier to have you back on the blog! I made your oyster mushroom crepes last night to the delight of my family… So many wonderful recipes to try and revisit. Take care and keep on your writing roll.

  9. Joyti Says:

    I adore cauliflower too. Especially blanketed with spices or intense flavors…like your bell pepper sauce. Yum!

  10. Regina Says:

    Hey Nan cy, I adore cauliflower ! Just bought some yesterday. also red bell. must be psychic. glad to hear about your book. Regina

  11. Faith Says:

    I can’t seem to get enough cauliflower lately so this is a must-try for me – the flavors in it are really lovely, and I bet they pair so well. (Thanks for the shout-out!)

    I’m so happy to hear you’re making good progress on your book – I can’t wait to hear more about it, my friend!

  12. Wendy Says:

    Love the cauliflower–cannot wait to make this heart healthy casserole!

  13. Barbara Says:

    You’re so right, Nancy. I’m seeing cauliflower recipes galore. Mary at One Perfect Bite has a good one…mashed with roasted garlic.
    I’m intrigued by the cauliflower salad sandwich. Going to Google it and see what comes up.
    Your recipe looks fabulous. Then instructions look lengthy, but when you read through, not difficult.

  14. Marina Says:

    I don’t really like it – but in this recipe it looks awesome!!

  15. Katarina Says:

    I will be making this for sure and passing it to my vegan friends. Looks nice and simple, meaty and flavorful. Thanks!!

  16. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I’m loving this cauliflower festival. Your dish looks great. I’m also very intrigued by this riff on an egg salad, and your brown rice tips. Way to go on being ahead of schedule with your book, but you do have that calm, cool, collected way about you. I shouldn’t be surprised you are ahead of schedule.

  17. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Gorgeous! I have rekindled a love for cauli and especially in the oven! I love what you have done with it :)

  18. Beth Says:

    This dish looks absolutely wonderful! And now that I use brown rice, I’d never go back to white. I think the flavor is terrific.

  19. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks for all the cauliflower love, friends! Just tried a new cauli dish last night–roasted and dressed in caper-shallot sauce. really really delicious.

  20. Rach Says:

    I’ve been – as you’ve noted – on a bit of a cauliflower roll lately, I often am at this time of year. With pasta is the latest guise (sauteed in loads of oil). This might well be next, it looks delicious, I love the contrasts here.
    Glad to hear all is going well with the book, I am excited to hear more and to hold it of course. I miss you though.

  21. FOODESSA Says:

    This dish is perfect, especially since you brought out the cauliflower singing with roasted deliciousness ;o)

    Nancy, glad to know that you’re project is coming along smoothly.

    Have a wonderful week my dear.
    Ciao for now,

  22. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    oh it is just amazing. Everything combined together is just amazing and fresh and perfect. I like the different contrast going on and the use of not just any almonds but macrona almonds is so creative

  23. Nicole Says:

    I was thInking this morning about how certain vegetables get trendy – kale is another. Funny! Great looking dish. Did you get a new camera? Great photos. Congrats on the cookbook! Labor of love I’m sure.

  24. Segmation Says:

    What an awesome use of colors and great cooking! Yummy!

  25. Regina Says:

    Hey Nancy, sounds like a lovely trip. Glad to hear about your cook book. can’t wait to purchase it!

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