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Originally published Monday, March 31, 2014 at 6:03 AM

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4 Simple Cauliflower Recipes for Spring

Roasted cauliflower with brown butter breadcrumbs and pecans; Cauliflower and caramelized onion gratin; Whole roasted cauliflower and whipped goat cheese; and Cauliflower couscous.


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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH BROWN BUTTER BREADCRUMBS AND PECANS

2-4 servings

1 head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds) cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cup whole pecans

Olive oil

Salt

6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed slightly with the side of a knife

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon chopped chives or spring onion

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cut up cauliflower and set aside.

2. Spread out pecans on a medium-sized rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant, about five minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl or cutting board to cool. When cool enough to handle, chop the pecans.

3. Turn up oven to 425 degrees.

4. Toss cauliflower in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat florets. Season with a pinch of salt. Spread out cauliflower on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until golden brown, about 25 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so to make sure all sides are browned. About halfway through, toss garlic cloves in with the cauliflower.

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it pops, foams, crackles and then quiets down. It will turn brown and fragrant. At this point, add the breadcrumbs, turn down the heat and stir until the bread soaks up the butter. Cook a few more minutes until the breadcrumbs darken slightly and crisp a bit. Transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl or jar.

6. Place the roasted cauliflower and garlic cloves on a platter. Sprinkle with ¼ cup toasted pecans, about ¼ cup breadcrumbs and chives. Finish with a sprinkling of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like. Serve immediately.

Variations: Add 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon ground cumin to the olive oil before coating the cauliflower. Serve with chopped fresh mint and a generous dollop of yogurt. Or, add 1 teaspoon of herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, and a few thyme sprigs to the olive oil before tossing. Then, add a handful of almonds during the last 10 minutes of roasting.

— From Ileana Morales, Tampa Bay Times

CAULIFLOWER AND CARAMELIZED ONION GRATIN

Serves 8

1 to 2 heads cauliflower (2½ to 3 pounds), cut into bite-size florets

2 large onions (1½ to 2 pounds), thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil

Salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

5 ounces Gruyere or Comté cheese, coarsely grated

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt

1. Cut up cauliflower and set aside.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir for a couple of minutes to coat with oil and soften. Turn down heat to medium and let onions cook, stirring occasionally until volume is reduced and onions are a deep brown. You may need to reduce heat to medium-low if the onions are browning too quickly rather than caramelizing. Stir in garlic at the end. Turn heat down to lowest setting.

4. Meanwhile, toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and spread on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. It’s OK if the cauliflower is slightly crowded. Roast until slightly softened and just starting to brown, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.

5. To make the roux, melt butter on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add flour and stir until the mixture is smooth and thickened, one to two minutes. If it clumps, just keep stirring. Pour milk and cream in slowly, stirring as you do, to combine the ingredients without any clumps. The mixture should be thick and smooth. Stir in about half of the cheese so it melts into the sauce.

6. Spread a ladleful of the white sauce over the bottom of a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spread out cauliflower and caramelized onions evenly in the dish. Pour sauce over the vegetables. Toss to coat cauliflower and onions in the sauce. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg and salt. Cover with the rest of the cheese.

7. Bake until browned and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

— From Ileana Morales, Tampa Bay Times

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE

Serves 4-6

2½ cups dry white wine

1 / 3 cup olive oil

¼ cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon sugar

1 bay leaf

8 cups water

1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed

Flaky salt (such as Maldon)

For the whipped goat cheese:

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

3 ounces cream cheese

3 ounces feta

1 / 3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Bring wine, oil, kosher salt, juice, butter, crushed red pepper, sugar, bay leaf and water to a boil in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven. Carefully add cauliflower to the pot and reduce heat to about medium or medium-high. Let cauliflower simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into the center, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Use 2 slotted spoons or a wide mesh strainer to remove the cauliflower from the pot and drain well. Place cauliflower with stem on the bottom on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, rotating sheet halfway through, until brown all over, 30 to 40 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Use a sharp knife to cut into 4 or 6 wedges and serve immediately with whipped goat cheese on the side.

3. Make the whipped goat cheese: Blend cheeses, heavy cream and 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt. Transfer whipped goat cheese to a serving bowl and drizzle with oil.

— Adapted by Ileana Morales, Tampa Bay Times, from Domenica in New Orleans via Bon Appétit magazine

CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (with as little of the stalk as possible)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

Zest of 1 lemon

A handful fresh herbs, such as mint or parsley, roughly chopped

Salt

Pepper

1. Cut up cauliflower, put in a food processor and pulse in batches until it’s chopped into small bits, the size and texture of Israeli couscous. Be careful not to purée. That’s not terrible, but not what we’re going for here. If you don’t have a food processor, you can break down the cauliflower into couscous-size pieces with the coarse side on a box grater or chopping it finely with a knife.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Add shallot and saute for one minute. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add cauliflower and cook until heated through, stirring frequently, about five minutes. Transfer cauliflower to a large serving bowl. Toss with cumin, lemon zest and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil if desired. Serve.

Variations: Try adding different nuts, dried fruit, herbs and spices of your liking. I often reach for whole or ground cumin and almonds. Feel free to swap in leeks or regular onion for the shallot.

— From Ileana Morales, Tampa Bay Times



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