~more recently updated recipes~
2006 Original Post: So what's a seasonal cook to do on a 93-degree first day of fall? Build a bridge between the seasons, that's what! This cauliflower dish struck just the right note tonight, fall's creamy cauliflower paired with summer's slightly acidic tomatoes. Thanks to my cousin Sharon for the recipe, who serves this with roasted meat or grilled fish and says that it's attractive for a buffet supper. I agree! Next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I'll make one or two changes to lighten it, with little change in enjoyment, I think. I'll either double the cauliflower or use half the bread crumbs and cheese.
2012 Update: How often I feel "called" to remake something at exactly the same time of year (or the "feel" of the year) as the first time. That's the beauty of eating with the seasons, taking advantage of what's readily on hand right now and then waiting a year – or some times two or three or six – to make that something again and have it feel exactly right for the moment.
RECIPE for CAULIFLOWER TOMATO MEDLEY
Time to table: 45 minutes
Water to steam
1 pound cauliflower, cut in bite-size pieces
6 slices bacon, cut in 1/2 inch pieces, optional
1 tablespoons bacon grease
2 slices whole-grain bread, made into bread crumbs
3 tomatoes, sliced or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground dill
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup good melting cheese (2006: cheddar 2012: blue cheese)
Extra tomato slices for top
Fresh herbs, chopped
Preheat oven to 400F.
Bring about an inch of water to boil in a steaming pan. Add the cauliflower in a collapsible steamer, cover and steam for 10 minutes or until quite tender. Uncover to slow the cooking.
IF USING BACON In a small skillet, fry the bacon, if using, until crisp. Retain the bacon grease, add the bread crumbs and toss. Let cook until the bread crumbs dry out and crisp up a bit.
IF USING BACON GREASE In a small skillet, melt the bacon grease until hot. Add the crumbs and toss to dry out and crisp.
Spray a shallow oven-proof dish with cooking spray. Arrange tomatoes on bottom. (You might reserve a few pieces for tucking into the cauliflower for color on top.) Top with green onion and ground dill. Season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the cauliflower on top. Stop here if making ahead of time.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Cover and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove cover, cover with cheese and bake another 5 minutes.
To serve, arrange tomato slices on top, sprinkle with fresh herbs.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
CAULIFLOWER 2006: A two-pound cauliflower yields about a pound of usable vegetable.
BACON Sharon's recipe calls for bacon and 3 tablespoons bacon grease. Both times, I've skipped the bacon and used less bacon grease, either 1 or 2 tablespoons.
TOMATOES 2006: I used cherry tomatoes frozen using this technique, it took about 10 minutes to remove the skins. 2012: I used good summer tomatoes and just sliced them. The dish will be prettier if you use less cauliflower and allow the tomatoes to peek through. Or, if using cherry tomatoes, save aside a few (or a few halves) to tuck into the cauliflower pieces on top.
BREAD CRUMBS In 2006, I made bread crumbs with the ever-useful food processor attachment to my small immersion blender. In 2012, I crumbled bits of leftover soft cornbread, it added color and flavor! Panko would work too.
CHEESE In 2006, I used 3/4 cup cheddar, it was very good. In 2012, I used what I had which was 2 ounces of blue cheese and really missed the cheesy-ness.
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MORE FAVORITE CAULIFLOWER RECIPES
~ Roasted Cauliflower ~
~ Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette ~
~ One-Skillet Cauliflower with Cheese ~
~ Cauliflower Spanish 'Rice' ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Herbs ~
~ Cauliflower Risotto ~
~ Lighter Mashed 'Potatoes' ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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