I have never really cared for cauliflower, too bland. You probably don’t either as raw cauliflower is usually the last veggie left in a vegetable tray. But cauliflower provides an excellent medium for cooking because it is a sponge for flavors. And better yet, it is superfood because it is low in calories, high in dietary fiber and so rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells and slow tumor growth. It has anti-inflammatory nutrients, it aids in digestion and helps prevent colon cancer.
Although you probably wouldn’t guess it, cauliflower is completely Mediterranean with its origins believed to come from the island of Cyprus.
With all of this in mind, I sought out and tried different recipes using cauliflower. If you have read my previous blogs on the Sardinian Longevity diet, they typically don’t eat much meat so I have been on a quest to find good meatless dishes. And I finally hit on a winner, the absolute best recipe using cauliflower I have ever had–Venetian Cauliflower. Viva Vivaldi! You will be surprised at how filling this dish is.
The best way to describe this recipe is, its like most woman, more work than initially seems necessary (lots of ingredients) but beautiful and sweet in the end.
Also, I have never been real fond of Moscato (too sweet for me) but I found a sparkling version that is excellent and fits like a glove with this recipe. It’s Marco Negri’s Moscato d’Asti. I use a glass of it for cooking and the rest served with the dish.
I make this cauliflower dish about every two weeks now. The ingredients can be a little expensive but so it the cost of meat. And if you make it a second time, you’ll have most of the ingredients and only need to buy a few more. Pine nuts can be hard to find and also expensive. I think chopped peanuts or shelled sunflower seeds might be a good substitute.
- 1 Cauliflower, about 1 1/2 pounds
- 2 medium shallots, finely diced (you can sub with one large yellow onion)
- 1/2 cup of Golden Raisins (I tend to use a bit more than a 1/2 cup)
- 1/4th cup Zante Currants
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- A pinch or two of saffron threads, crumbled
- 1/4th teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- Two pinches of red pepper flakes
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4th cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (to toast, 60-90 secs in a dry skillet on high)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1/4th pound of Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 bottle of Marco Negri Sparkling Moscato (3 to 5 oz for cooking)
- Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom, then remove the core. Cut into very small florets of equal size. This is important because large florets won’t soak in all the spices very well.
- Blanch florets in boiling water for 2 minutes. Cool in cold water and drain.
- Put olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat. Add in the onion and cook while stirring until softened and lightly browned (about 10 minutes). If the pan becomes a little dry, I add in a little of the Moscato.
- Add saffron, cinnamon, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and red pepper flakes. Season well with salt and black pepper.
- Add lemon zest, zante currants, golden raisins and the drained cauliflower florets. Add in roughly a 3 oz glass of the sparkling Moscato. Toss with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute. Cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes more until cauliflower is tender and the wine has reduced by half. You want to burn off the alcohol content of the wine.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts, parsley and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Buon Appetito and Salute!