epicurious.com turned up the PERFECT RECIPE! I was looking for something that would really feature the insane color of this vegetable and the recipe for Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Puree seemed to fit the bill. The premise of the recipe was to cut slabs (steaks) of cauliflower and pan sear them to get a crust. The rest of the cauliflower florets get parboiled, then roasted, then pureed with some milk and served as a sauce over the slabs (steaks.)
What I love about epicurious, aside from their vast archives, is all the notes people write after the recipe. When I looked at people's comments on this recipe it was immediately clear that the consensus was "BLAND". Well, heck yeah that seems obvious. Why not make a cheese sauce to puree with the cauliflower to give it a little umph? And instead of parboiling and roasting before pureeing why not pan sear the florets as well to get some crispy flavor in one step rather than two. Anyway, I was off and running.
I put some of the cauliflower in a soup. It looked so perky and tasted great too!
Roasting the cauliflower did nothing to diminish the color. After roasting I chopped it up and put it into a vegetable quesadilla for one of my favorite clients.
Ok, so onward with the recipe, or perversion of the recipe shall we say. Look at these slabs, how gorgeous!
While I was on the color kick I started eyeing the green tomatoes I rescued from the garden this morning. How about a few slabs of green tomatoes to go along with the cauliflower slabs?
The plan was hatched! Pan seared green tomatoes, pan seared slabs of purple cauliflower, pan seared cauliflower florets (add a little water to the pan and cover to let the florets steam a little till tender before pureeing)
Puree the tender florets, then add some bechamel sauce with cheese (2 Tbs. butter, melted, 2 Tbs. Flour stirred in, 1.5 cups milk, whisk, 2 oz. grated cheese, melt)
Plate this and laugh! I think I need my friend Katie the amazing chef and food stylist to help me out here. I could not stop giggling as I ate this because it looked so ridiculous and yet it tasted AMAZING!!! The purple puree was to die for, the green tomatoes added a perfect fresh tartness, the cauliflower slabs were filling and satisfying. This is one funky looking delicious dish. I think if I was working with a white cauliflower it would look fine or at least not startlingly peculiar. I don't know if I would have the nerve to serve this in this incarnation, but the flavor was really really good and worth the experiment.
Amanda, I am thinking an orange or green wine might be just right with this?
Unfortunately the color of the wine I have in mind cannot live up to the vibrant colors of your dish! But I have to say - I actually don't think it looks silly at all - from an aesthetic standpoint, it's amazing! Sure, it's different. But it's just a testament to the natural beauty cooking with vegetables can offer us. I would be thrilled is this plate was set down before me at a restaurant.
Deb - I saw a beautiful orange cauliflower today at an organic market. I have only had the standard, now paler-in-comparison white varietal. Are there taste differences between colors? And to what do we owe these beautiful differences in color? I don't remember seeing all of these different options when I was a kid...
Now onto wine - I want a light, crisp, lively white with this. A wine with a little "tartness" to it would be a good choice, to match with the tartness of the tomatoes. The tartness of the tomatoes with a wine that has no "tart" characteristics, will render the wine weak and thin. A white Bordeaux would be a great complement to Deb's work of art. A mixture of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, whites from the region are typically crisp and acidic (from the Sauvignon Blanc) with a rich, round quality (from the Semillon).