Cauliflower has had a glow-up.
In recent years, it has busted out of its shell and gained popularity as an alternative to other foods.
There’s the rice alternative, in which cauliflower is grated on a large box grater or broken down in a food processor into small, ricelike pieces, then cooked until soft. There’s the mashed potato alternative, when cauliflower is cooked and pureed with things like milk and cheese. And there’s even the steak alternative, where you cut the cauliflower into thick slabs and roast it in the oven or in a skillet with plenty of olive oil and salt and pepper until it’s soft.
The plethora of trendy cauliflower preparations hasn’t left much room in my kitchen for regular ol’ steamed cauliflower.
I was reminded of this when I pulled up my Pinterest board the other day looking for healthy dinner inspiration and found this lemony cauliflower dish topped with crunchy nuts.
Much to my husband’s chagrin — it stinks! — I love cauliflower and would cook it every night if I didn’t worry about getting sick of it. I find it rather scrumptious just straight out of the oven, after being roasted on a sheet pan with just a bit of olive oil and some salt.
But this recipe calls for steaming a head of cauliflower, then introducing some flavors that complement the cruciferous vegetable.
The recipe is by food writer Alison Roman, queen of simple yet totally exquisite home cooking. Her 2017 cookbook Dining In is full of recipes like that, and this cauliflower concoction is no exception. Lemon juice brightens the veggie up while hazelnuts tap into its earthy, almost nutty flavor profile.
Brown butter gives the dish an indulgent feel, but don’t worry: At the end of the day, you’re still eating a large helping of cauliflower.
And believe me, you’re going to want a large helping.
You could pair this with just about any protein: chicken, yes; pork tenderloin, absolutely; a couple of steaks, mmm. Or pair it with some crusty bread and eat it as a vegetarian dinner.
The other night, I paired it with some steak and an herby sauce I had made for another dish. I would highly recommend the combo.
Here’s how I made that herb sauce: Blend a handful each parsley and basil in a food processor with ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, lots of salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. Whiz until combined; if it’s still pretty thick, add some more olive oil until it’s like a thin paste. You don’t want it totally liquidy, but it should be able to slide off a spoon pretty easily when scooped.
Spoon atop the finished cauliflower dish, and your desired protein, and marvel at the wonders of fresh, simple cooking.
Contact Michelle Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mstark17.
Lemony Cauliflower With Hazelnuts and Brown Butter
1 small head cauliflower, broken into larger florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup skin-on hazelnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 lemon, halved for serving
¼ cup finely chopped chives or parsley
Flaky sea salt
Place cauliflower in a steamer basket set over a large, lidded pot (preferably wider than taller) of boiling water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and steam until cauliflower is totally tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (You can check the doneness by piercing it with a paring knife or fork.)
Meanwhile, heat butter and hazelnuts in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pot occasionally, until the butter has melted and begins to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a wooden spoon or small whisk, stir the butter, making sure all the milk solids and hazelnuts are browning evenly. Add olive oil and continue to cook until both the butter and hazelnuts are deeply golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Once the cauliflower is done, use a potato masher or large fork to gently crush it into bite-sized pieces. Transfer cauliflower to a large serving platter or plate and drizzle with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Spoon hazelnut mixture over the cauliflower and top with chives and flaky sea salt. Serve alongside lemon halves for squeezing.
Source: Alison Roman