Say hello to the holiday season's most welcome side dish, a healthy vegetable dish for holiday potlucks, buffets and family dinners, a field of snowy cauliflower adorned with vegetable versions of boughs of evergreen and red berries. Because who else has noticed? People really do watch for healthy choices and gobble them up! The first time I made Christmas Cauliflower, I followed this lovely recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen for my annual cookie swap brunch last year, an antidote to butter-sugar-flour. So good! Will definitely make it that way again. Olives!!
But once Christmas was over? This cauliflower stamped its white feet and insisted on being made again, unsatisfied with relegation to a few weeks in December. In summer, I paired the barely roasted cauliflower with tiny tomatoes, tomatillos and a mix of fresh herbs all from our garden. A few days later, it was more tiny tomatoes (they pop!) with fresh tarragon. Funny story. When I served Christmas Cauliflower for a family dinner in July, one of the wise six-year old twins corrected me. "That's cray-zee. It's not Christmas!" But he also got the joke!
And now, for the umpteenth time? I added thin strips of red and green peppers, the year's seasonal cycle has returned to its roots, a festive healthy side dish for the Christmas season. Cauliflower that looks like a Christmas tree? Yeah, that's Christmas Cauliflower! But just like the "reason for the season" ... Christmas Cauliflower lives year-round.
Roasted Cauliflower – a large head cut into quite small florets, roasted on its own for 30 minutes to give it a welcome head start.
"Something Red & Green" – your choice of vegetables, roasted for just 15 minutes, taking the edge off the rawness.
"Something Salty" – capers and olives work, so do tiny cubes of parmesan or a scattering of feta crumbles or even bacon bites or bits of good salami, say.
"Something Fresh & Herby" – your choice, parsley and cilantro are obvious choices but especially during summer, try oregano, rosemary, basil, etc.
"The Finish" – a sprinkle of lemon juice plus something for texture contrast, Kalyn used pine nuts (pricey but wonderful!) and I've used everything from toasted almonds to toasted quinoa to um, well, nothing.
RECIPE for CHRISTMAS CAULIFLOWER
Time to table: 1 hour
Serves 4 - 8, depending on the size of the meal
Endlessly variable, this is how I made the most recent platter of Christmas Cauliflower
1 large head cauliflower
Salt & pepper
RED & GREEN
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
Salt & pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Parsley leaves (just the leaves, no stems)
Set oven to 425F/220C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil or silicone.
HEAD START FOR THE CAULIFLOWER Trim and core the cauliflower. (How to cut up a whole head of cauliflower.) Cut into small florets, chop any larger stem pieces into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, use your hands to really get in there to toss the florets, oil, salt and pepper. Spread the cauliflower evenly across the baking sheet. Take a quick look, do any of those florets need to be cut smaller? Do it! Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes, give it a quick stir, then roast for another 15 minutes.
RED & GREEN Trim and core the peppers. Cut in half vertically, from stem to stern, stack and gently flatten the two pieces, then cut into half rings. Add the peppers and capers to the bowl used for the cauliflower and give it a quick toss, there's likely enough oil left in the bowl but if needed, add a tiny splash more.
After the cauliflower has roasted on its own for 30 minutes, stir in the peppers/capers and roast for another 15 minutes.
THE FINISH For the toasted quinoa, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a small skillet. Once it's hot, add the quinoa, salt and pepper; let warm, stirring often, until the quinoa turns slightly crunchy.
Once the cauliflower has roasted for the full 45 minutes, arrange on a platter. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over top, sprinkle with toasted quinoa and parsley leaves.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS This is great made ahead, either to serve warm or at room temperature. To make ahead but serve warm, make as directed but then arrange the cauliflower on an oven-safe platter. It'll take 5 - 10 minutes in the oven to rewarm the cauliflower.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
CAULIFLOWER A three-pound head of cauliflower, after trimming and coring, will yield about two pounds of florets.
BROCCOLI A few broccoli florets look pretty with the cauliflower. But cut them small and add during the last 15 minutes.
HOW MUCH OLIVE OIL? Use what you like, of course, but I allow 1 tablespoon olive oil per pound of cauliflower, that's enough to get a nice roast while keeping the calories in check, it also makes for "less oily" cauliflower if it's going to be served at room temperature.
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RED & GREEN ESPECIALLY FOR CHRISTMAS~ Broccoli Tomato Holiday Wreath ~
~ Healthy Red & Green Green-Bean Salad ~
~ Party Rye with Tomato & Cucumber ~
~ Simple Dandelion Salad ~
~ Spinach Pinwheels with Pears & Dried Cranberries ~
~ Spinach with Roasted Pepper ~
from A Veggie Venture
SEASONAL EATING: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSSwagman Stew Warm Pepper Salad Celery & Apple Salad Spinach & Artichoke Gratin Sliced Brussels Sprouts Creamless Creamed Corn Lemony Creamy Brussels Sprouts Celebrate St. Louis Carrot & Daikon Refrigerator Pickle St Louis Food Gifts "Wonderful" Glazed Turnips & Carrots Red & Green Warm Spinach Salad Potato Latkes Buckwheat with Mushrooms & Carrots Fast Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts Simple Dandelion Salad Party Rye with Tomato & Cucumber Easy Make-Ahead Endive & Apple Salad Spinach Pinwheels with Pears & Dried Cranberries
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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