Sunday Supper: When cauliflower calls

The date: Sunday, July 10, 2011

The menu: Baked chicken curry, fresh cauliflower salad, basmati rice, and strawberry cardamom upside-down cake

The inspiration: At Home with Madhur Jaffrey and Joy the Baker

If you blink an eye, you’ll miss it. That precious time when your cauliflower is finally ready to harvest. The head hides itself beneath huge, blue-green leaves. You think nothing is happening with that plant that’s taking up so much valuable gardening real estate and then, BAM! There’s a huge head of cauliflower under there.

I read that it’s best to harvest cauliflower when the head is about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Once it reaches that size, you should harvest it quick lest it bolt or get eaten by those stinkin’ cabbage worms. So, I guess tonight I’ll be eating cauliflower again.

I had some good friends over for Sunday Supper this week, the lovely friends that trade me French pastries for eggs. So yes, I had a delicious local strawberry and pistacio tart for breakfast the following day. But that’s beside the point. Also, it should be noted that I made dessert – an amazing, rich strawberry cardamom upside-down cake – for a French pastry chef. Yeah, that’s right. And I made whip cream for said chef who had to whip cream by hand in pastry chef school so as to not over whip the delicate peaks. I think I deserve a major gold star for that.

They got to share in my bountiful crop of cauliflower too. And wouldn’t you know it, I made Indian food again. I just can’t stop! This time, I found a super interesting cauliflower salad to try. My instinct with cauliflower is to roast it, put it in a quiche or cake, or add it to a soup or stew like aloo gobi. This salad, however, serves up the cauliflower basically raw and cold. But don’t turn your nose up yet! Because it mascerates in salt and then some lemon juice before it’s served, it softens just a bit, causing it to lose its crisp, raw-tasting edge. It’s like cauliflower ceviche. Another bonus is not having to turn on the oven to cook it as I’m often inclined to do during these warm, summer months. It’s a summer salad like you’ve never had before. So I guess it deserves a gold star too.

Cauliflower Summer Salad (a.k.a. Cauliflower Cachumbar)
adapted from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

The headnote for this recipe says that it will last several days in the refrigerator if kept covered. I think it’s even better served the next day. 

1 large cauliflower,chopped (so no piece is larger than 1/3″ x 1/4″)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds

Put the cauliflower in a large bowl. Add the salt and rub it in, mixing well. Let macerate for 1-3 hours.

If any liquid has accumulated, drain it. Add the cayenne, cilantro, sugar, lemon juice, and vinegar. Mix.

Put the oil in a small pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, pour the contents of the pan over the cauliflower. Stir to mix. Serve immediately or better yet, the next day. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Sunday Supper: When cauliflower calls

  1. Reading (and chickens)

    1) Are you having the same summer as us over in Wallingford? Because I have a sweater and wool socks on today. If it is warmer in your neck of the woods, we are going there!
    2) You deserve MAJOR gold stars for making food for any kind of chef. I’d be too intimidated to cook.


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