Archive for May, 2012

Cauliflower Couscous

Cauliflower gets a bad rap. It really isn’t fair. It’s mild, succulent, and easy to prepare, yet I know far too many people who won’t consider eating it without first drowning it beyond recognition in an unholy sauce of Velveeta cheese. Don’t get me wrong here, I love cheese, but sometimes your vegetables deserve better.

Enter cauliflower couscous. During Passover, it takes the place of grains. The rest of the time, it’s simply a favorite accompaniment to salmon or a cheese plate or anything made of lamb.

I saw this recipe in a cookbook called the Breakaway Cook and for some reason failed to buy it. I probably changed the method drastically, and added greens because everything is better with greens. Add a good dose of citrus and a touch of olive oil and you’re good to go.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/3 to 1/2 lb collard green chiffonade

1/4 cup yuzu, lime, or lemon juice (yuzu juice can be hard to find, but more than worth keeping an eye out for.)

2-3 T olive oil

salt, to taste

Directions

Chop the cauliflower into florets.

Place the florets in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the pieces mostly range between the size of peas and grains of rice. I find this easier in small batches, a handful at a time, but if your food processor is larger and less prone to let pieces of food surf above the blades than mine, feel free to do it all at once.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add the cauliflower. Drizzle the olive oil over it and sauté for about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the yuzu (or lemon or lime) juice. Pop a lid over the pan and steam for another 10 minutes.

Crank the heat back up to high and add the greens. Cook, stirring constantly, another 3-5 minutes.

Add salt to taste and serve piping hot. This is an amazing accompaniment to honey-braised lamb shanks, but just as good as a main dish with a plate of olives and bocconcini. It’s simple enough to be worth making even when cooking for one, and good enough to bring out for company. It’s especially useful if, like most of us, you’re used to providing some kind of grain with dinner but are feeding someone who can’t eat gluten.

You could easily mix it up to complement a different palate–make it with peas and turmeric instead of greens with Indian food, or add some diced eggplant and apricots for a  Middle Eastern meal. Use orange juice and sliced olives one time, red wine and figs the next. I’ll always come back to greens, though; there’s nothing quite like greens in almost any savory dish you can think of.

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Hiatus

It turns out that narrowing down, applying to, and otherwise stressing about graduate school is a very time-consuming operation. There are so many researchers working in so many fascinating areas that just reading the abstracts of their papers is a little overwhelming, let alone factoring in the schools’ research foci, locations, graduate placement odds, etc. Add into the mix sheer nerves about going back into academics after too many years working, and a pile of time spent re-teaching myself calculus I haven’t used since undergrad, and you’ll begin to see how the past weeks aren’t leaving much time for the blog.

I’m still cooking, but making the additional time for photographing and writing up those tasty items is on a lower priority for the moment. The plan is to return next week-end with some seriously delicious cauliflower, and get back to a once-a-week posting schedule following that.

The cauliflower is worth waiting for. In the meantime, have some olives and bocconcini and toast. We all need a simple lunch that needs no preparation sometimes, right?

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