Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recipe: Orange cauliflower vinaigrette

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I cannot say enough good things about cauliflower. Especially the bright orange organic cauliflower now available regularly at our local 99 Cents Only store. I have taken to stopping there around 9:30am a few days a week, because that's when they put out all the fresh produce they've gotten in that morning. For $10 I walk out with a bag brimming with salad greens, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, oranges, and today, even apricots from Chile.

Cauliflower, I find, is an extremely versatile vegetable. It's good raw with dip. I love it roasted with olive oil and sea salt until it's just browning, then served with a squeeze of Meyer lemon on top. Sometimes I steam a head with a single small potato, then puree it with a little yogurt or sour cream and parmesan cheese, as a healthy stand-in for mashed potatoes.

Today I felt like something on the lighter side - it's hot here in southern California - so I steamed it until it was crisp-tender, then dressed it with my standard French-style vinaigrette. If you dress it while it's still warm, the cauliflower will absorb the dressing better, and in fact it will keep its color better, too.

Orange cauliflower vinaigrette

1 head of orange cauliflower, broken into florettes
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
pepper to taste

Steam the cauliflower about 8 minutes, or until the florettes are tender but not mushy. While the cauliflower is steaming, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.

When the cauliflower is done, tip it into the bowl. Toss gently, then taste. Add more salt if necessary, or more lemon juice, or even a bit of vinegar if you want it more punchy.

Serve hot, warm, or cold.


Maggie said...

This sounds delicious! My mother-in-law dresses hot cauliflower with lemon juice, olive oil and lots of parsley and it's great. I'd like to try your recipe with the garlic and mustard addition.

Erika said...

I think the key, as you point out, is to dress it when it's warm, so it absorbs the flavors of the dressing (particularly the acidic tang) more fully. I bet a few minced shallots in the dressing would be good, too - they'd soften both from the acid in the lemon juice and from the heat of the cauliflower.

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