If cheese sauce is all you've ever had with broccoli and its kissing cousin, cauliflower, then we need to talk.
It is hard to mention one without the other, given the popularity of the newfangled hybrid broccoflower. Plus, cauliflower is available not just in traditional virgin snow white, but in shades of funky green and Barney purple as well. A food fight nearly broke out at a Seattle restaurant, where four of us were debating whether our fab cauliflower dish was in fact broccoli.
The reason to love cauliflower over broccoli is its elegance and grace. It never tastes like a tree trunk and it takes on any flavor you wish, particularly if you roast it.
Cauliflower loves a hot oven. Roasting is a surefire way to tenderize those florets and allow seasonings to soak in. The recipe below is inspired by the aforementioned Seattle food fight. Done up Sicilian style, with a sweet-savory combination of raisins, pine nuts, garlic, anchovies and bread crumbs, this dish is intense without being rich.
I recreated it with pasta, but it works beautifully all by its glorious lonesome.
Cauliflower, Sicilian Style
1 head white, green or purple cauliflower, cleaned, trimmed and loosely cut into florets, about 1 pound
Salt and pepper
1 cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup white wine
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3-4 anchovy fillets, chopped
At least 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs, up to
1/2 pound short pasta, such as penne,
farfalle or gemelli
1 teaspoon salt
Shaved parmigiano (optional)
Small handful chopped fresh parsley