Cauliflower is having its Cinderella moment. Once relegated to cafeteria steam tables or served as a bland, water-logged side, the cruciferous vegetable is now fetching up to $25 as a main dish and served as a gourmet topping with olives and bread crumbs on coal-fired pizzas. Behind cauliflower's recent transformation are a variety of "fairy godmothers," so to speak. Credit is due to innovative chefs like Michael Merida, who recently left Cravings Tapas Bistro in Westwood, where he crafted such dishes as a ricotta and cauliflower gnocchi served with a cauliflower cream sauce. And Steve Santoro, of Local Seasonal Kitchen in Ramsey, where the $25 "cauliflower steak" that debuted last spring is so popular, he can't take it off the menu. "So many people are coming in and asking for it," said Santoro. "I'd like to switch it out. But I would be foolish to do so.
From Fairway Market, 1510 Route 46 west, Woodland Park; 34 E. Ridgewood Ave., Paramus
- 1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 4 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 1 teaspoon anchovies, minced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Cut cauliflower into florets and place in boiling water for 3 minutes, then run cold water on top of the florets to immediately cool them and stop them from cooking. Strain and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl combine cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, bread crumbs, capers, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, minced anchovies and crushed red pepper.
Place cauliflower mixture on a papered sheet tray. Place in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until slightly browned.
Remove from oven. Place in dish and garnish with rolled anchovy fillets, chopped parsley and remainder of Parmesan cheese.
Serves: 6 to 8.
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