Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Calorically Acceptable Thanksgiving Side Dish

It is November 10.

Somehow the calendar has advanced itself very close to Thanksgiving and nearly to the end of the year. Though it seems like the beginning of May was just a few weeks ago, alas, here we find ourselves...older, (perhaps) wiser, knocking on the holiday season's door once again. Where does the time go?

Well I for one know that I've spent the majority of this year baking bread. You'd be surprised at how quickly time flies while you're waiting for yeast to do its thing. But beyond that and a massive trip to Australia, I don't have much to show for 2009 -- except my home and my wonderful husband and my sweet dog. And now that I've written that down, it appears that I have an awful lot to show for 2009. An awful lot that counts. Here's hoping for a multitude of blessings in your life as well, dear reader.

And speaking of giving thanks, now's also the time to start talking about Thanksgiving dinner. It's time to order the turkey, to plan, to cook, to locate your spreadin'-out clothes in the back of the closet, to salivate in an inappropriate fashion. To help you plan for the big day, I've put together a collection of Stove With A House recipes that will fit in nicely on your Thanksgiving table -- whether you're hosting an army or need a dish to take to someone else's feast. Just click on the "Tasty Thanksgiving Recipes" link over there on the right and have a look. Happy cooking!

To kick off the season today, I'd like to share a recipe for twice-baked cauliflower that I dreamed up on my birthday. Husband took me to Downtown 140 for an amazing and absolutely filling multi-course extravaganza. There was an elaborate cheese course, and chicken curry spring rolls with a perfect cilantro sauce, and grilled heads of romaine with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a rare steak for Husband, and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Then there was my delectable entree: almond-crusted scallops with pomegranate served atop cauliflower mash. It was divine, and it got me thinking that I do not eat enough cauliflower.

I should be making more cauliflower mash at home, I thought while savoring my deeply caramelized scallops, especially since it is much healthier than mashed potatoes yet strikingly similar in taste and texture. But a few days later, after sending Husband to the store to pick up a head of cauliflower, I determined that I wanted something a little more exciting than a simple puree -- especially if I was to serve it during the holidays. I wanted to add just enough dairy goodness to elevate the humble cauliflower from Healthy Vegetable to Calorically Acceptable Thanksgiving Side Dish. You are planning on exercising that Thursday morning, right?

So I roasted the florets until they were brown and crispy, pureed them with butter and cream, then baked them again with panko and Manchego and a pinch of cayenne. Though Husband and I enjoyed the twice-baked cauliflower with coriander-dusted chicken paillards and a bit of sauteed spinach, it will also pair perfectly with a Thanksgiving turkey. And it will fit right in alongside the rest of the Thanksgiving side dishes, all gooey and crispy and browned in a casserole dish.

All gooey and crispy and browned in a casserole dish. I knew there was a reason I love Fall.



I like to make this dish in individual oven-proof dishes, but you can, of course, bake the whole thing in a large casserole and spoon out individual servings. I just like my tiny yellow Pyrex baking dishes and use them whenever possible.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 T. olive oil
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 T. unsalted butter
Pinch cayenne
1/2 c. panko
4 oz. Manchego cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cauliflower, olive oil, black pepper, sea salt and thyme in a baking dish and toss to combine. Roast until the florets are tender and brown and crispy on the edges, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly; leave the oven on.

While the cauliflower is cooling, heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat.

Place the cauliflower and the cream-butter mixture in a Cuisinart
. Add the cayenne and process until the mixture comes together and the cauliflower is chopped into tiny pieces -- it shouldn't be completely smooth; I like a little bit of texture.

Divide the cauliflower mixture into 4 single-serve oven-proof dishes.

Top each dish with 1/8 c. of the panko and 1 oz. of the Manchego cheese. (Alternatively, if you aren't using individual baking dishes, add the entire cauliflower mixture to one large baking dish and top with the entirety of the panko and Manchego.)

Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and enticing.

Makes 4 servings.


Christie @ Fig&Cherry said...

I love this! Especially in the small yellow dishes. Manchego is such a delicious flavoured cheese and would really compliment the cauliflower.

Simply Life said...

Oh yum, that looks great!

Dianne said...

Christie, thank you! I love those yellow dishes....