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 Kerekes 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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