Though I have not written about food in a while, I have certainly been cooking, and we have continued to battle the mounting pile of crucifers from our CSA. Sadly, the CSA has now ended for the season, but we still have a fridge full of veggies. Among these veggies are some cauliflowers — one regular old white, one purple, and one Romanesco, the crazy fractal kind. I think that’s all we have. Maybe there is another cheddar colored one tucked away in some corner of my fridge…time will tell.
I have long admired Romanesco cauliflower, and finally having one on hand and knowing that it was the last week of the CSA and that another Romanesco was not necessarily in my immediate future, I felt a little pressure to do something that would preserve its crazy fractal beauty. I turned to Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for cauliflower with ginger and cream. I had stumbled across this recipe while flipping through World Vegetarian a couple of weeks back, and it sounded intriguing, if a bit uninteresting to look at in all its whiteness. I decided to spice up the colors by using one purple and one Romanesco cauliflower. Look how pretty they are, even in poor evening light!
The basic recipe is to throw ginger, green chiles, heavy cream, milk, cauliflower, a bunch of chopped cilantro, and a little salt into a pan and cook it (bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, cook 10 minutes, uncover and crank the heat and cook until desired sauce thickness and veggie tenderness are achieved). I used half & half instead of cream, because that is what the bodega had to offer. For chiles, I used CSA jalapeños, two of them. They were not super spicy. I also added some garlic, because that is what I do. Because I was using half & half instead of mostly heavy cream, I let it cook up with the ginger and jalapeños and salt while I chopped cauliflower so that it would thicken a bit. Then I added the cauliflower to the pan and sprinkled the cilantro on top.
From that point on, I cooked as directed, and this dish was amazing. The cream dialed the heat from the ginger and jalapeños down to a smooth, delicious warmth, and the cilantro kept it bright and fresh. The purple cauliflower became a deeper purple as it cooked, and the Romanesco maintained its awesome, futuristic-yet-somehow-ancient shape, so the dish was pretty as well as tasty. As an added bonus, the Romanesco was a good deal sweeter than any other cauliflower I’ve had this season…and my have I had cauliflower this season…
Regardless of the outward aesthetics of your cauliflower, you really should make this dish soon. It is one of the simplest, most delicious recipes I have come across in a long time. Really. I was astounded by its deliciousness. Madhur Jaffrey is a very clever lady, even if she did get this recipe “from an Indian friend living in the States who got it from another Indian friend living in the States” and did not come up with it herself. Geniuses all around. We ate ours with brown basmati rice and some very simply sautéed tofu. You can eat yours with whatever you like.