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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Whole Pot-Roasted Cauliflower With Tomatoes and Anchovies

Julia Moskin  
  Time About 1 hour 15 minutes 
 Yield 6 servings as a side dish, 4 as an entree

The English chef April Bloomfield is known for her love of meat, but her vegetable-centric cookbook “A Girl and Her Greens” is stuffed with the produce she discovered while cooking in Mediterranean-influenced kitchens like Chez Panisse and London’s River Cafe. Often, she simply treats a vegetable as if it were meat, like this whole head of cauliflower. Braising it in tomato and anchovies, as if making an Italian pot roast, produces a richly satisfying entree.
Ms. Bloomfield is unabashedly fussy about every component of her dishes, and inspires us to be equally careful. She gives a $2 can of plum tomatoes the same treatment she’d give an $80 whole lobe of foie gras: Each one must be closely examined, its tough bits trimmed off, and any substandard specimens discarded.

Featured in: April Bloomfield’s ‘A Girl And Her Greens’ Delights In The Details.

1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), white, green or Romanesco
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 whole salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and filleted, or 5 to 6 anchovy fillets
¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 ½ cups drained whole canned tomatoes, trimmed of hard and unripe bits, diced
¼ cup dry white wine, plus extra for cooking
3 dried pequin chiles, or 3 large pinches red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon flaky salt, like Maldon, or kosher salt

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450 degrees.
2. Trim any wilted leaves and brown bits off the cauliflower, but leave healthy leaves. Put the cauliflower on its side on a cutting board. As if coring a tomato, core the base of the cauliflower: insert a small sharp knife about 1 inch into the base of the stem, make a circular cut to loosen the cone-shaped core, then pry it out and discard.
3. In a deep, heavy ovenproof pot (with a lid), large enough to hold the whole cauliflower, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower cored side up; it should sizzle. Brown the exterior, turning it occasionally with tongs for even browning. This should take about 5 minutes; reduce the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Carefully turn over and brown the other side lightly, about 2 minutes.
4. Remove the cauliflower to a plate and add garlic, anchovies and rosemary to the pot. Stir until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, white wine, chiles and salt. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Return cauliflower to pot, cored side down. Baste with the tomato liquid and pile some of the solids on top. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes to thicken the tomatoes.
5. Cover the pot, place in the oven and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes; a knife will go into the thick stems with almost no resistance. Check on the tomato sauce every 10 minutes or so; it should be punchy and intense but not too thick, so add a glug of wine if it seems to be getting too dry.
6. Transfer the cauliflower head to a serving plate or shallow bowl and cut in half, quarters or thick slices. Spoon on all the tasty stuff left in the pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs. Serve immediately or at room temperature, passing salt and red pepper flakes at the table.

Adapted from April Bloomfield, “A Girl and Her Greens” (Ecco)

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)
191 calories; 12 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 8 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 8 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 1 milligram cholesterol; 604 milligrams sodium


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