It’s Just a Little Cauliflower

Never underestimate cauliflower.  It’s white and tame looking, but underneath that bland exterior is a kaleidoscope of delicious flavor, the Auntie Mame of the vegetable kingdom.

It can be soup, it can be salad, it can be smothered in a rich cheese sauce (yum!), or grated and sautéed with garlic and parsley.  I am always experimenting with cauliflower because it is so versatile, and here I’ll share one of my best discoveries.

Trim the florets from the stems of a fresh head of cauliflower.  Cut the florets very small, being careful to keep their rounded shape.  Steam the florets until they are tender – about 8 minutes, testing frequently with a sharp knife so you catch them right when they’re perfectly cooked.  They must be tender through, but not soft or mushy.

While the cauliflower is steaming, thinly slice several shallots and put them in a large bowl with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, some fine sea salt, a little pepper,  and 1/3 cup hazelnut oil.  Whisk this together.

When the cauliflower is steamed, fold it into the vinaigrette. As it cools, it will absorb the delicate, nutty flavor of the vinaigrette.

At serving time, place  a metal ring mold in the center of a plate (a tuna can with both ends removed does the job, too), and pack it gently with the cauliflower.  Remove the mold, add a sprinkling of fleur de sel and some chive or rosemary blossoms and voila! A perfect first course is ready to be enjoyed!




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