Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cauliflower Piccata

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I've been markedly absent from the blog-o-sphere lately, with a myriad of things going on in my personal and professional life. But I've been getting back in the kitchen lately and photographing away! So bare with me while I attempt to catch up on my backlog.

Let's start first with something that became a real instant favorite of mine over the winter. Cauliflower piccata! While this may not exactly be a spring recipe, it's perfect for these last few cool weeks as we get ready to make the full transition into summer.

I've long been a fan of seitan piccata, and before that I was eating lots of broccoli piccata, following the recipe from Vegan Lunchbox (a vegan cookbook staple in my household in 2008).

This cauliflower recipe is undeniably inspired by that, as well as a recent recipe I found in the New York Times for whole roasted cauliflower. Simply combine the two, et voilà! Instant classic. My husband absolutely loves this dish, as do I. It's also been whole-heartedly embraced by my non-veg friends and family.

The Times recipe calls for an almond-herb recipe. Sounds delicious. Also sounds like a lot of work. The piccata sauce, on the other hand, literally takes just a few minutes to whisk up. The long part of this recipe is just letting the cauliflower sit in the oven, so keep that in mind when preparing.

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Roasted Cauliflower Piccata
What You'll Need:
1 large cauliflower
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tbsp capers
2 tsp flour*
4 tbsp vegetable Broth (water will do, in a pinch)
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

What You'll Need to Do:
Place a small pan of hot water on the bottom rack of your oven, to create steam (save the top for the cauliflower). Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Rinse that cauliflower. Cut off the base of the cauliflower and the leaves. Then cut out the hard core of the cauliflower, taking your knife at an angle, and cutting into the thick stalk of the cauliflower, in a circle, being sure to leave the main stem and all of the florets intact. Once you've gone all the way around, the stalk and the leaves should come away from the rest of the cauliflower easily. Don't cut too deep, you want the cauliflower to stay together!

Once you have the cauliflower trimmed, place it on the cutting board (core side down) and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Rub the oil in with your hands so that it gets well distributed on the surface and then sprinkle with salt.

Once the oven is heated, place the cauliflower in a heavy baking dish or oven-proof pan (again, core side down) and let it cook for an hour and a half to two hours, until it's nicely golden or browned to your liking. Sprinkle another tablespoon of olive oil on about half way through.

When you're about ready to take the cauliflower out, make your sauce.

To make sauce, whisk together vegetable broth and flour in a small bowl or measuring cup. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until just fragrant, about 30 seconds (being careful not to burn). Add lemon juice, capers, and flour mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and pour it on top of that hot cauliflower!

This all reheats well, too--makes great leftovers.

Bon appétit!

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Tips and Tricks:
Short on time? Boil the cauliflower for about 10 minutes first, then roast. It will cook much more quickly (you'll want to give it at least 15 minutes in the oven after boiling).

*Gluten-free version: substitute gluten-free corn starch instead of flour.

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