As a rule I used to steam cauliflower and smoother it with cheese sauce, the way my grandmother and mother always used to make it. I tried this recipe the other day and the kids decided they prefer it. Phew! The sauteed shallots are key.

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped

2 tbsps olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

optional: grated parmigiano, asiago, or sharp cheddar cheese

1. Steam the cauliflower until very tender, ,about 7 minutes. Put in a shallow bowl and set aside.

2. Warm the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat and saute the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper until the shallots have softened. Add to the bowl of cauliflower and mash with a potato masher. Stir in the scallions and parsley. Stir in the grated cheese, if desired.

simple cauliflower

March 27, 2010

In my musing “But what exactly?” I talk about eating meat and dairy which I don’t do on a regular basis, but there are exceptions. As I walk further down this vegan road, I’m noticing that there are two categories of exceptions. One is the 6-month exception. At Christmas I had lamb – this was the big diversion that seems to happen every 6 months or so. What about the monthly or weekly exceptions? Week to week, I pretty much stick to a vegan routine. Monthly? It’s come down to two things: feta and parmigiano. Becoming vegan has brought into vivid view the things that I truly appreciate and, surprisingly, feta and parmigiano are at the top of the list. (I’ve always loved them but didn’t realize how much more I love them than other types of cheese and dairy.) I don’t eat them often but once in awhile they are a nice treat.

The recipe below calls for parmigiano. You can, of course, leave it out if you want to do a vegan version but it was a really nice addition. The kids loved this recipe – said it was way better than any other cauliflower dish I’ve made. It’s from 101 cookbooks. Serve it with rice, another veggie dish, and some BBQ meat for the non-vegans in the house and everyone’s happy.

2 – 3 heads of small cauliflower (or 1/2 head large)

2 tbsps olive oil

a couple pinches of sea salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small bunch of chives, chopped

zest of one lemon

freshly grated parmigiano

pinch or two sea salt

To prep the cauliflower, remove any leaves at the base and trim the stem. Now cut it into tiny trees – and by tiny, I mean most florets aren’t much larger than a table grape. Make sure the pieces are relatively equal in size, so they cook in the same amount of time. Rinse under running water, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and fine grain salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated. Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom, then toss the cauliflower with a spatula. Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden – all told about six minutes. In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic.

Remove from heat and stir in the chives, lemon zest, and dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of flaky sea salt (if you have it on hand). Serve immediately.

Photo credit: 101 cookbooks

This recipe is from the Tassajara cookbook. I made it last night – Friday night, after a long week, it was getting late, didn’t have a tonne of motivation, wondered about pulling some shriveled left-overs out of the fridge, but instead I dug in, bucked up, and pulled out the necessary ingredients for this veggie Thai red curry. I’m so glad I did. It was quick. It was easy. It was yummy. Andrew’s reaction? “It’s kind of hard bothering to eat meat when you’ve got food like this. And kind of hard to justify going out for Thai food. That was ridiculously good.” I made one batch since I hadn’t made it before and, post-dinner, we concluded that I should have doubled or tripled it.

Since it was the end of the week and I hadn’t refreshed the supplies for a couple of days, I didn’t have exactly the “right” ingredients so I made some substitutions – tomatoes for red pepper, sugar snap peas for beans, shitake mushrooms for crimini. It worked beautifully so my guess is that you could probably throw in any veggies and it would be awesome. This one’s a keeper for sure.

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 cup green beans, stems removed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup crimini mushrooms, ends trimmed

1 14-oz can coconut milk

1 – 2 tbsps Thai red curry paste

2 tbsps brown sugar

2 tbsps tamari

1 small sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into slivers

20 – 30 fresh Thai basil leaves, whole

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch the cauliflower to al dente, about 4 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. In the same pot of water, repeat with the green beans; set aside. In a saute pan, add the oil and cook the mushrooms until they’re browned and have released some juices; set aside.

In a wide saucepan, add the coconut milk,  sugar, and tamari. Add the curry paste – start with a small amount of curry paste and then taste for spiciness. Add more as desired. Add the cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, and half the basil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil and serve with rice.

This is another good Vij’s recipe to go alongside the Coconut Curried Vegetables. I’ve “vegan-ized” it by using olive oil instead of butter. The other thing you can do is add dried currants to get a good hit of iron and fibre. My kids don’t love them so I tend to leave them out but you could also just have a little bowl-full on the side for customized additions.

Rice:

2 cups basmati rice

3 3/4 cups water

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

3/4 Tsp salt

Cauliflower:

2 Tsps cumin seed

2-3 Tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

10 whole cloves

1 1/4 Tsps ground turmeric

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)

1 1/2 Tsps salt

1 cauliflower (about 1 pound), in 1-inch florets (about 5 cups)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, with stems

1. To prepare the rice: wash rice twice in cold water. Soak rice in 3 cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain rice.

2. In a medium pot with a lid, combine rice, 3 3/4 cups of water, olive oil and salt on high heat. As soon as the rice starts to boil vigorously, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, but do not remove the lid. Allow rice to sit for about 5 minutes, then remove the lid and set aside.

3. To prepare the cauliflower: In a separate frying pan or a wok, heat cumin seeds in oil on medium-high heat. Once seeds have sizzled for 30 to 45 seconds, reduce the heat to medium and add onions and cloves. Sauté the onion for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown. Add turmeric, jalapeno and salt and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add cauliflower, stir well and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked but still firm and not too soft.

4. Add cauliflower to rice and combine well. Add cilantro and stir with a large fork until the rice is completely yellow from the turmeric.

Serves 6 to 8

coconut curried vegetables

February 2, 2010

This is a mainstay in our family. LOVE this recipe. It’s from the amazing Vij in Vancouver and goes with almost anything. Make double or triple as it keeps well (and even freezes well).

1/2 cup olive oil

25 to 30 fresh curry leaves

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

1 tbsp + 1 tsp chopped garlic

2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 12 ounce can coconut milk, stirred

1 lb zucchini, chopped into 1-1/2 inch pieces

1 lb cauliflower, cut into 1-1/2 inch florets

2 red and yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1 inch pieces

3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about one minute or until a few seeds pop.

Immediately add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes

Add tomatoes and remaining spices and sauté for 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.

Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add zucchini. Cover and simmer to five minutes. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and simmer for another five minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Serve over basmati rice.